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This book is due at the LOUIS R. WILSON LIBRARY on the 
last date stamped under "Date Due." If not on hold it may be 
renewed by bringing it to the library. 



NOV ^ 


[)eE1" 1981 

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mi T • MdV^ 


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Form No. 51 3 


by the Internet Archive 

n 2013  









L^biary. Univ. ol 
North CaTolin^ 



Dedication 7 


I. How THE Knight came to the 

Fisherman 9 

II. In what Way Undine had come to 

THE Fisherman 21 

III. How They found Undine AGAIN . 31 

IV. Of that which the Knight en- 

countered IN THE Wood ... 38 

V. How THE Knight lived on the 

Little Promontory .... 49 

VI. Of a Nuptial Ceremony ... 57 
rO VII. What further happened on the 

Evening of the Wedding . . 68 
VIII. The Day after the Wedding . 74. 
^ IX. How THE Knight took His Young 

^ Wife with Him 84 




X. How They lived in the City . 92 

XI. The Anniversary of Bertalda's 

Name-Day 99 

XII. How they departed from the 

Imperial City 109 



, XIV. How Bertalda returned Home 

WITH the Knight . . . . . 129 
XV. The Journey to Vienna ... 141 
XVI. How It fared further with Huld- 

BRAND 151 

XVII. The Knight's Dream .... 158 
XVIII. How THE Knight Huldbrand is 


XIX. How THE Knight Huldbrand was 



Undine, thou image fair and blest, 

Since first thy strange mysterious glance 
Shone on me from some old romance, 

How hast thou sung my heart to rest ! 

How hast thou clung to me and smiled, 
And wouldest, whispering in my ear. 
Give vent to all thy miseries drear, 

A little half-spoiled timorous child ! 

Yet hath my zither caught the sound, 
And breathed from out its gates of gold. 
Each gentle word thy lips have told. 

Until their fame is spread around. 




And many a heart has loved thee well, 
In spite of every wayward deed, 
And many a one will gladly read, 

The pages which thy history tell. 

I catch the whispered hope expressed, 
That thou should'st once again appear 
So cast aside each doubt and fear, 

And come, Undine ! thou spirit blest ! 

Greet every noble in the hall, 

And greet 'fore all, with trusting air, 
The beauteous women gathered there ; 

I know that thou art loved by all. 

And if one ask thee after me. 

Say : he's a true and noble knight, 
Fair woman's slave in song anc?- €ghl 

And in all deeds of chivalry. 




There was once, it may be now many hun- 
dred years ago, a good old fisherman, who was 
sitting one fine evening before his door, mend- 
ing his nets. The part of the country in which 
he lived was extremely pretty. The greensward, 
on which his cottage stood, ran far into the lake, 
and it seemed as if it was from love for the blue 
clear waters that the tongue of land had stretched 
itself out into them, while with an equally fond 
embrace the lake had encircled the green pas- 
ture rich with waving grass and flowers, and the 
refreshing shade of trees. The one welcomed 
the other, and it was just this that made each 



so beautiful. There were indeed few human 
beings, or rather none at all, to be met with on 
this pleasant spot, except the fisherman and his 
family. For at the back of this little promontory 
there lay a very wild forest, which, both from its 
gloom and pathless solitude as well as from the 
wonderful creatures and illusions with which it 
was said to abound, was avoided by most people 
except in cases of necessity. 

The pious old fisherman, however, passed 
through it many a time undisturbed, when he 
was taking the choice fish, which he had caught 
at his beautiful home, to a large town situated 
not far from the confines of the forest. The 
principal reason why it was so easy for him to 
pass through this forest was because the tone of 
his thoughts was almost entirely of a religious 
character, and besides this, whenever he set 
foot upon the evil reputed shades, he was wont 
to sing some holy song, with a clear voice and 
a sincere heart. 

While sitting over his nets this evening, un- 
suspicious of any evil, a sudden fear came upon 
him, at the sound of a rustling in the gloom of 


the forest, as of a horse and rider, the noise 
approaching nearer and nearer to the Uttle prom- 
ontory. All that he had dreamed, in many a 
stormy night, of the mysteries of the forest, now 
flashed at once through his mind ; foremost of 
all, the image of a gigantic snow-white man, 
who kept unceasingly nodding his head in a por- 
tentous manner. Indeed, when he raised his 
eyes toward the wood it seemed to him as if 
he actually saw the nodding man approaching 
through the dense foliage. He soon, however, 
reassured himself, reflecting that nothing serious 
had ever befallen him even in the forest itself, 
and that upon this open tongue of land the evil 
spirit would be still less daring in the exercise 
of his power. At the same time he repeated 
aloud a text from the Bible with all his heart, 
and this so inspired him with courage that he 
almost smiled at the illusion he had allowed to 
possess him. The white nodding man was sud- 
denly transformed into a brook long familiar to 
him, which ran foaming from the forest and disr 
charged itself into the lake. The noise, how- 
ever, which he had heard, was caused by a 



knight beautifully apparelled, who, emerging 
from the deep shadows of the wood, came rid- 
ing toward the cottage. A scarlet mantle was 
thrown over his purple gold-embroidered doub- 
let ; a red and violet plume waved from his 
golden-colored head-gear ; and a beautifully and 
richly ornamented sword flashed from his shoul- 
der-belt. The white steed that bore the knight 
was more slenderly formed than war-horses gen- 
erally are, and he stepped so lightly over the 
turf that this green and flowery carpet seemed 
scarcely to receive the slightest injury from his 

The old fisherman did not, however, feel per- 
fectly secure in his mind, although he tried to 
convince himself that no evil was to be feared 
from so graceful an apparition ; and therefore he 
politely took off his hat as the knight approached, 
and remained quietly with his nets. 

Presently the stranger drew up, and inquired 
whether he and his horse could have shelter and 
care for the night. **As regards your horse, 
good sir," replied the fisherman, ** I can assign 
him no better stable than this shady pasture, 


and no better provender than the grass growing 
on it. Yourself, however, I will gladly welcome 
to my small cottage, and give you supper and 
lodging as good as we have." The knight was 
well satisfied with this; he alighted from his 
horse, and, with the assistance of the fisherman, 
he relieved it from saddle and bridle, and turned 
it loose upon the flowery green. Then address- 
ing his host, he said: ** Even had I found you 
less hospitable and kindly disposed, my worthy 
old fisherman, you would nevertheless scarcely 
have got rid of me to-day, for, as I see, a broad 
lake lies before us, and to ride back into that 
mysterious wood, with the shades of evening 
coming on, heaven keep me from it ! " 

** We will not talk too much of that," said the 
fisherman, and he led his guest into the cottage. 

There, beside the hearth, from which a scanty 
fire shed a dim light through the cleanly-kept 
room, sat the fisherman's aged wife in a capa- 
cious chair. At the entrance of the noble guest 
she rose to give him a kindly welcome, but 
resumed her seat of honor without offering it to 
the stranger. Upon this the fisherman said 


with a smile: You must not take it amiss of 
her, young sir, that she has not given up to you 
the most comfortable seat in the house ; it is a 
custom among poor people, that it should belong 
exclusively to the aged."" 

** Why, husband,'' said the wife, with a quiet 
smile, **what can you be thinking of? Our 
guest belongs no doubt to Christian men, and 
how could it come into the head of the good 
young blood to drive old people from their 
chairs? Take a seat, my young master," she 
continued, turning toward the knight; over 
there, there is a right pretty little chair, only 
you must not move about on it too roughly, for 
one of its legs is no longer of the firmest." The 
knight fetched the chair carefully, sat down upon 
it good-humoredly, and it seemed to him as if 
he were related to this little household, and had 
just returned from abroad. 

The three worthy people now began to talk 
together in the most friendly and familiar man- 
ner. With regard to the forest, about which 
the knight made some inquiries, the old man 
was not inclined to be communicative ; he felt 


it was not a subject suited to approaching night, 
but the aged couple spoke freely of their home 
and former life, and listened also gladly when 
the knight recounted to them his travels, and 
told them that he had a castle near the source 
of the Danube, and that his name was Sir Huld- 
brand of Ringstetten. During the conversation, 
the stranger had already occasionally heard a 
splash against the little low window, as if some 
one were sprinkling water against it. Every 
time the noise occurred, the old man knit his 
brow with displeasure ; but when at last a whole 
shower was dashed against the panes, and bub- 
bled into the room through the decayed case- 
ment, he rose angrily, and called threateningly 
from the window : *' Undine ! will you for once 
leave off these childish tricks ? and to-day, be- 
sides, there is a stranger knight with us in the 
cottage." All was silent without, only a sup- 
pressed laugh was audible, and the fisherman 
said as he returned: You must pardon it in 
her, my honored guest, and perhaps many a 
naughty trick besides ; but she means no harm 
by it. It is our foster-child, Undine, and she 



will not wean herself from this childishness, al- 
though she has already entered her eighteenth 
year. But, as I said, at heart she is thoroughly 

You may well talk," replied the old woman, 
shaking her head ; ** when you come home from 
fishing or from a journey, her frolics may then 
be very delightful, but to have her about one the 
whole day long, and never to hear a sensible 
word, and instead of finding her a help in the 
housekeeping as she grows older, always to be 
obliged to be taking care that her follies do not 
completely ruin us, that is quite another thing, 
and the patience of a saint would be worn out at 

Well, well," said her husband with a smile, 
** you have your troubles with Undine, and I 
have mine with the lake. It often breaks away 
my dams, and tears my nets to pieces, but for 
all that, I have an a-ffection for it, and so have 
you for the pretty child, in spite of all your 
crosses and vexations. Isn't it so?" 

" One can't be very angry with her, certainly," 
said the old woman, and she smiled approvingly. 


Just then the door flew open, and a beautiful, 
fair girl glided laughing into the room, and said : 
** You have only been jesting, father, for where 
is your guest ? " 

At the same moment, however, she perceived 
the knight, and stood fixed with astonishment 
before the handsome youth. Huldbrand was 
struck with her charming appearance, and dwelt 
the more earnestly on her lovely features, as he 
imagined it was only her surprise that gave him 
this brief enjoyment, and that she would pres- 
ently turn from his gaze with increased bashful- 
ness. It was, however, quite otherwise ; for 
after having looked at him for some time, she 
drew near him confidingly, knelt down before 
him, and said, as she played with a gold medal 
which he wore on his breast, suspended from a 
rich chain: Why, you handsome, kind guest, 
how have you come to our poor cottage at last ? 
Have you been obliged then to wander through 
the world for years, before you could find your 
way to us ? Do you come out of that wild for- 
est, my beautiful knight?" The old woman's 
reproof allowed him no time for reply. She 



admonished the girl to stand up and behave her- 
self and to go to her work. Undine, however, 
without making any answer drew a little foot- 
stool close to Huldbrand's chair, sat down upon it 
with her spinning, and said pleasantly: I will 
work here." The old man did as parents are 
wont to do with spoiled children. He affected 
to observe nothing of Undine^s naughti- 
ness and was beginning to talk of something 
else. But this the girl would not let him do ; 
she said : I have asked our charming guest 
whence he comes, and he has not yet answered 

I come from the forest, you beautiful little 
vision," returned Huldbrand ; and she went on 
to say : — 

Then you must tell me how you came 
there, for it is usually so feared, and what mar- 
vellous adventures you met with in it, for it is 
impossible to escape without something of the 

Huldbrand felt a slight shudder at this re- 
membrance, and looked involuntarily toward 
the Vv^indow, for it seemed to him as if one of 


the strange- figures he had encountered in the 
forest were grinning in there ; but he saw noth- 
ing but the deep dark night, which had now 
shrouded everything without. Upon this he 
composed himself and was on the point of be- 
ginning his little history, when the old man 
interrupted him by saying : Not so, sir knight ! 
this is no fit hour for such things." Undine, 
however, sprang angrily from her little stool, 
and standing straight before the fisherman with 
her fair arms fixed in her sides, she exclaimed : 

He shall not tell his story, father? He shall 
not? but it is my will. He shall ! He shall in 
spite of you ! " and thus saying she stamped 
her pretty little foot vehemently on the floor, 
but she did it all with such a comically graceful 
air that Huldbrand now felt his gaze almost 
more riveted upon her in her anger than before 
in her gentleness. 

The restrained wrath of the old man, on the 
contrary, burst forth violently. He severely re- 
proved Undine^s disobedience and unbecoming 
behavior to the stranger, and his good old wife 
joined with him heartily. Undine quickly 



retorted: *^If you want to chide me, and 
wonH do what I wish, then sleep alone in your 
old smoky hut ! " and swift as an arrow she -K 
flew from the room, and fled into the dark 




HuLDBRAND and the fisherman sprang from 
their seats and were on the point of following 
the angry girl. Before they reached the cottage 
door, however, Undine had long vanished in the 
shadowy darkness without, and not even the 
sound of her light footstep betrayed the direc- 
tion of her flight. Huldbrand looked inquir- 
ingly at his host ; it almost seemed to him as if 
the whole sweet apparition, which had suddenly 
merged again into the night, were nothing else 
than one of that band of the wonderful forms 
which had, but a short time since, carried on 
their pranks with him in the forest. But the 
old man murmured between his teeth : ** This 
is not the first time that she has treated us in 
this way. Now we have aching hearts and 



sleepless eyes the whole night through ; for who 
knows, that she may not some day come to 
harm, if she is thus out alone in the dark until 

Then let us for God's sake follow her," cried 
Huldbrand, anxiously. 

What would be the good of it? " replied the 
old man. It would be a sin were I to allow 
you, all alone, to follow the foolish girl in the 
solitary night, and my old limbs would not over- 
take the wild runaway, even if we knew in what 
direction she had gone." 

** We had better at any rate call after her, and 
beg her to come back," said Huldbrand ; and 
he began to call in the most earnest manner: 
** Undine! Undine! Pray come back!" The 
old man shook his head, saying, that all that 
shouting would help but little, for the knight 
had no idea how self-willed the little truant was. 
But still he could not forbear often calling out 
with him in the dark night: *' Undine! Ah! 
dear Undine, I beg you to come back — only 
this once ! " 

It turned out, however, as the fisherman had 


said. No Undine was to be heard or seen, and 
as the old man would on no account consent 
that Huldbrand should go in search of the fugi- 
tive, they were at last both obliged to return to 
the cottage. Here they found the fire on the 
hearth almost gone out, and the old wife, who 
took Undine's flight and danger far less to heart 
than her husband, had already retired to rest. 
The old man blew up the fire, laid some dry 
wood on it, and by the light of the flame sought 
out a tankard of wine, which he placed between 
himself and his guest. You, sir knight," said 
he, are also anxious about that silly girl, and 
we would both rather chatter and drink away a 
part of the night than keep turning round on 
our rush mats trying in vain to sleep. Is it not 
so?" Huldbrand was well satisfied with the 
plan ; the fisherman obliged him to take the 
seat of honor vacated by the good old house- 
wife, and both drank and talked together in a 
manner becoming two honest and trusting men. 
It is true, as often as the slightest thing moved 
before the windows, or even at times when noth- 
ing was moving, one of the two would look up 



and say : ** She is coming ! " Then they would 
be silent for a moment or two, and as nothing 
appeared, they would shake their heads and sigh 
and go on with their talk. 

As, however, neither could think of anything 
but of Undine, they knew of nothing better to 
do than that the old fisherman should tell the 
story, and the knight should hear, in what man- 
ner Undine had first come to the cottage. He 
therefore began as follows : — 

It is now about fifteen years ago that I was 
one day crossing the wild forest with my goods, 
on my way to the city. My wife had stayed at 
home, as her wont is, and at this particular time 
for a very good reason, for God had given us, 
in our tolerably advanced age, a wonderfully 
beautiful child. It was a little girl|. and a ques- 
tion already arose between us, whether for the 
sake of the new-comer, we would not leave our 
lovely home that we might better bring up this 
dear gift of heaven in some more habitable 
place. Poor people indeed cannot do in such 
cases as you may think they ought, sir knight, 
but, with God's blessing, every one must do 


what he can. Well, the matter was tolerably in 
my head as I went along. This slip of land 
was so dear to me, and I shuddered when, amid 
the noise and brawls of the city, I thought to 
myself, * In such scenes as these, or in one not 
much more quiet, thou wilt also soon make thy 
abode ! ' But at the same time I did not mur- 
mur against the good God ; on the contrary, I 
thanked him in secret for the new-born babe ; 
I should be telling a lie, too, were I to say, that 
on my journey through the wood, going or re- 
turning, anything befell me out of the common 
way, and at that time I had never seen any of 
its fearful wonders. The Lord -was ever with 
me in those mysterious shades." 

As he spoke he took his little cap from his 
bald head, and remained for a time occupied 
with prayerful thoughts ; he then covered him- 
self again, and continued : — 

*'0n this side the forest, alas! a sorrow 
awaited me. My wife came to meet me with 
tearful eyes and clad in mourning. * Oh ! Good 
God!' I groaned, * where is our dear child? 
speak ! ' — * With him on whom you have called, 



dear husband,' she replied ; and we now entered 
the cottage together weeping silently. I looked 
around for the little corpse, and it was then only 
that I learned how it had all happened. 

*' My wife had been sitting with the child on 
the edge of the lake, and as she was playing 
with it, free of all fear and full of happiness, the 
iittle one suddenly bent forward, as if attracted 
by something very beautiful in the water. My 
wife saw her laugh, the dear angel, and stretch 
out her little hands ; but in a moment she had 
sprung out of her mother^s arms, and had sunk 
beneath the watery mirror. I sought long for 
our little lost one ; but it was all in vain ; there 
was no trace of her to be found. 

" The same evening we, childless parents, 
were sitting silently together in the cottage ; 
neither of us had any desire to talk, even had 
our tears allowed us. We sat gazing into the 
fire on the hearth. Presently, we heard some- 
thing rustling outside the door; it flew open, 
and a beautiful little girl three or four years old, 
richly dressed, stood on the threshold smiling 
at us. We were quite dumb with astonishment, 


and I knew not at first whether it were a vision 
or a reality. But I saw the water dripping from 
her golden hair and rich garments, and 1 per- 
ceived that the pretty child had been lying in 
the water, and needed help. ' Wife,' said I, 
* no one has been able to save our dear child ; 
yet let us at any rate do for otiiers what would 
have made us so blessed.' We undressed the 
little one, put her to bed, and gave her some- 
thing warm ; at all this she spoke not a word, 
and only fixed her eyes, that reflected the blue 
of the lake and of the sky, smilingly upon us. 
Next morning we quickly perceived that she 
had taken no harm from her wetting, and I 
now inquired about her parents, and how she 
had come here. But she gave a confused and 
strange account. She must have been born far 
from here, not only because for these fifteen 
years I have not been able to find out anything 
of her parentage, but because she then spoke, 
and at times still speaks, of such singular things 
that such as we are cannot tell but that she may 
have dropped upon us from the moon. She 
talks of golden castles, of crystal domes, and 



heaven knows what besides. The story that 
she told with most distinctness was, that she 
was out in a boat with her mother on the great 
lake, and fell into the water, and that she only 
recovered her senses here under the trees where 
she felt Herself quite happy on the merry shore. 
We had still a great misgiving and perplexity 
weighing on our heart. We had, indeed, soon 
decided to keep the child we had found and to 
bring her up in the place of our lost darling ; 
but who could tell us whether she had been 
baptized or not? She herself could give us no 
information on the matter. She generally an- 
swered our questions by saying that she well 
knew she was created for God's praise and glory, 
and that she was ready to let us do with her 
whatever would tend to His honor and glory. 

*'My wife and I thought that if she were not 
baptized, there was no time for delay, and that 
if she were, a good thing could not be repeated 
too often. And in pursuance of this idea, we 
reflected upon a good name for the child, for we 
now were often at a loss to know what to call 
her. We agreed at last that Dorothea would be 


the most suitable for her, for I once heard that 
It meant a gift of God, and she had surely been 
5ent to us by God as a gift and comfort in our 
misery. She, on the other hand, would not 
hear of this, and told us that she thought she 
had been called Undine by her parents, and 
that Undine she wished still to be called. Now 
this appeared to me a heathenish name, not 
to be found in any calendar, and I took counsel 
therefore of a priest in the city. He also would 
not hear of the name of Undine, but at my 
earnest request he came with me through the 
mysterious forest in order to perform the rite of 
baptism here in my cottage. The little one 
stood before us so prettily arrayed and looked 
so charming that the priest's heart was at once 
moved within him, and she flattered him so 
prettily, and braved him so merrily, that at last 
he could no longer remember the objections he 
had had ready against the name of Undine. She 
was therefore baptized * Undine,' and during 
the sacred ceremony she behaved with great 
propriety and sweetness, wild and restless as 
she invariably was at other times. For my wife 



was quite right when she said that it has been 
hard to put up with her. If I were to tell 
you " — 

The knight interrup^ted the fisherman to draw 
his attention to a noise, as of a rushing flood 
of waters, which had caught his ear during the 
old man's talk, and which now burst against 
the cottage-window with redoubled fury. Both 
sprang to the door. There they saw, by the 
light of the now risen moon, the brook which 
issued from the wood, widely overflowing its 
banks, and whirling away stones and branches 
of trees in its sweeping course. The storm, as 
if awakened by the tumult, burst forth from the 
mighty clouds which passed rapidly across the 
moon : the lake roared under the furious lashing 
of the wind ; the trees of the little peninsula 
groaned from root to topmost bough, and bent, as 
if reeling, over the surging waters. Undine ! 
for Heaven's sake. Undine ! " cried the two men 
in alarm. No answer was returned, and regard' 
less of every other consideration, they ran out 
of the cottage, one in this di-recbion, and the 
other in that, searching and calling. 




The longer Huldbrand sought Undine be- 
neath the shades of night, and failed to find her, 
the more anxious and confused did he become. 
The idea that Undine had been only a mere 
apparition of the forest, again gained ascendancy 
over him ; indeed, amid the howling of the 
waves and the tempest, the cracking of the trees, 
and the complete transformation of a scene 
lately so calmly beautiful, he could almost have 
considered the whole peninsula with its cottage 
and its inhabitants as a mocking illusive vision ; 
but from afar he still ever heard through the 
tumult the fisherman's anxious call for Undine, 
and the loud praying and singing of his aged 
wife. At length he came close to the brink of 
the swollen stream, and saw in the moonlight 



how it had taken its wild course directly in front 
of the haunted forest, so as to change the penin- 
sula into an island. "Oh God!" he thought 
to himself, '* if Undine has ventured a step into 
that fearful forest, perhaps in her charming wil- 
fulness, just because I was not allowed to tell 
her about it ; and now the stream may be roll- 
ing between us, and she may be weeping on the 
other side alone, among phantoms and spec- 
tres ! " A cry of horror escaped him, and he 
clambered down some rocks and overthrown 
pine-stems, in order to reach the rushing stream 
and by wading or swimming to seek the fugi- 
tive on the other side. He remembered all the 
awful and wonderful things which he had en- 
countered, even by day, under the now rustling 
and roaring branches of the forest. Above all 
it seemed to him as if a tall man in white, whom 
he knew but too well, was grinning and nodding 
on the opposite shore ; but it was just these 
monstrous forms which forcibly impelled him 
to cross the flood, as the thought seized him 
that Undine might be among them in the 
agonies of death and alone. 



He had already grasped the strong branch of 
a pine, and was standing supported by it, in the 
whirling current, against which he could with 
difficulty maintain himself ; though with a cour- 
ageous spirit he advanced deeper into it. Just 
then a gentle voice exclaimed near him : Ven- 
ture not, venture not, the old man, the stream, 
is full of tricks ! " He knew the sweet tones ; 
he stood as if entranced beneath the shadows 
that duskily shrouded the moon, and his head 
swam with the swelling of the waves, which he 
now saw rapidly rising to his waist. Still he 
would not desist. 

** If thou art not really there, if thou art only 
floating about me like a mist, then may I too 
cease to live and become a shadow like thee, 
dear, dear Undine ! Thus exclaiming aloud, he 
again stepped deeper into the stream. Look 
round thee, oh ! look round thee, beautiful but 
infatuated youth ! " cried a voice again close 
beside him, and looking aside, he saw by the 
momentarily unveiled moon, a little island formed 
by the flood, on which he perceived under the 
interweaved branches of the overhanging trees. 



Undine smiling and happy, nestling in the flow- 
ery grass. 

Oh ! how much more gladly than before did 
the young man now use the aid of his pine- 
branch ! 

With a few steps he had crossed the flood 
which was rushing between him and the maiden, 
and he was standing beside her on a little spot 
of turf, safely guarded and screened by the good 
old trees. Undine had half-raised herself, and 
now under the green leafy tent she threw her 
arms round his neck, and drew him down beside 
her on her soft seat. 

** You shall tell me your story here, beautiful 
friend," said she, in a low whisper; **the cross 
old people cannot hear us here ; and our roof of 
leaves is just as good a shelter as their poor 

It is heaven itself!" said Huldbrand, em- 
bracing the beautiful girl and kissing her fer- 

The old fisherman meanwhile had come to the 
edge of the stream, and shouted across to the 
two young people: Why, sir knight, I have 


received you as one honest-hearted man is wont 
to receive another, and now here you are caress- 
ing my foster-child in secret, and letting me run 
hithjr and thither through the night in anxious 
search of her." 

" I have only just found her myself, old 
father," returned the knight. 

*' So much the better," said the fisherman; 

but now bring her across to me without delay 
upon firm ground." 

Undine, however, would not hear of this ; she 
declared she would rather go with the beautiful 
stranger, into the wild forest itself, than return 
to the cottage, where no one did as she wished, 
and from which the beautiful knight would him- 
self depart sooner or later. Then, throwing 
her arms round Huldbrand, she sang with inde- 
scribable grace : — 

" A stream ran out of the misty vale 
Its fortunes to obtain, 
the ocean's depths it found a home 
And ne'er returned again." 

The old fisherman wept bitterly at her song, 



but this did not seem to aflfect her particularly. 
She kissed and caressed her new friend, who at 
last said to her: Undine, if the old man's 
distress does not touch your heart, it touches 
mine — let us go back to him.*" 

She opened her large blue eyes in amazement 
at him, and spoke at last, slowly and hesitat- 
ingly : "If you think so — well, whatever you 
think is right to me. But the old man yonder 
must first promise me that he will let you, with- 
out objection, relate to me what you saw in 
the wood, and — well, other things will settle 

** Come, only come," cried the fisherman to 
her, unable to utter another word ; and at the 
same time he stretched out his arms far over the 
rushing stream toward her, and nodded his head 
as if to promise the fulfilment of her request, 
and as he did this, his white hair fell strangely 
over his face, and reminded Huldbrand of the 
nodding white man in the forest. Without al- 
lowing himself, however, to grow confused by 
such an idea the young knight took the beauti- 
ful girl in his arms, and bore her over the 


narrow passage which the stream had forced 
between her little island and the shore. 

The old man fell upon Undine^s neck and 
could not satisfy the exuberance of his joy ; his 
good wife also came up and caressed the newly- 
found in the heartiest manner. Not a word of 
reproach passed their lips ; nor was it thought 
of, for Undine, forgetting all her waywardness, 
almost overwhelmed her foster-parents with 
affection and fond expressions. 

When at last they had recovered from the 
excess of their joy, day had already dawned, 
and had shed its purple hue over the lake ; still- 
ness had followed the storm, and the little birds 
were singing merrily on the wet branches. As 
Undine now insisted upon hearing the knight's 
promised story, the aged couple smilingly and 
readily acceded to her desire. Breakfast was 
brought out under the trees which screened the 
cottage from the lake, and they sat down to it 
with contented hearts — Undine on the grass at 
the knight's feet, the place chosen by herself. 

Huldbrand then proceeded with his story. 





**It is now about eight days ago since I rode 
into the free imperial city, which lies on the other 
side of the forest. Soon after my arrival, there 
was a splendid tournament and running at the 
ring, and I spared neither my horse nor my lance. 
Once when I was pausing at the lists, to rest after 
my merry toil, and was handing back my helmet 
to one of my squires, my attention was attracted 
by a female figure of great beauty, who was 
standing richly attired on one of the galleries 
allotted to spectators. 

I asked my neighbor, and learned from him, 
that the name of the fair lady was Bertalda, and 
that she was the foster-daughter of one of the 
powerful dukes living in the country. I remarked 
that she also was looking at me, and, as it is wont 


to be with us young knights, I had already ridden 
bravely, and now pursued my course with reno- 
vated confidence and courage. In the dance 
that evening I was Bertalda's partner, and I 
remained so throughout the festival." 

A sharp pain in his left hand, which hung 
down by his side, here interrupted Huldbrand's 
narrative, and drew his attention to the aching 
part. Undine had fastened her pearly teeth 
upon one of his fingers, appearing at tlie same 
time very gloomy and angry. Suddenly, how- 
ever, she looked up in his eyes with an expres- 
sion of tender melancholy, and whispered in a 
soft voice : " It is your own fault." Then she hid 
her face, and the knight, strangely confused and 
thoughtful, continued his narrative. 

This Bertalda was a haughty, wayward girl. 
Even on the second day she pleased me no longer 
as she had done on the first, and on the third day 
still less. Still I continued about her, because 
she was more pleasant to me than to any other 
knight, and thus it was that I begged her in jest 
to give me one of her gloves. * I will give it 
you when you have quite alone explored the ill- 



famed forest,' said she, * and can bring me tid- 
ings of its wonders.' It was not that her glove 
was of such importance to me, but the word had 
been said, and an honorable knight would not 
allow himself to be urged a second time to such 
a proof of valor." 

I think she loved you,'' said Undine, inter- 
rupting him. 

It seemed so," replied Huldbrand. 
'*Well,'' exclaimed the girl, laughing, *' she 
must be stupid indeed. To drive away any one 
dear to her. And moreover, into an ill-omened 
wood. The forest and its mysteries might have 
waited long enough for me ! " 

** Yesterday morning," continued the knight, 
smiling kindly at Undine, ** I set out on my enter- 
prise. The stems of the trees caught the red 
tints of the morning light which lay brightly on 
the green turf, the leaves seemed whispering 
merrily with each other, and in my heart I could 
have laughed at the people who could have ex- 
pected anything to terrify them in this pleasant 
spot. * I shall soon have trotted through the 
forest there and back again,' I said to myself, 


with a feeling of easy gayety, and before I had 
even thought of it I was deep within the green 
shades, and could no longer perceive the plain 
which lay behind me. Then for the first time it 
struck me that I might easily lose my way in the 
mighty forest, and that this perhaps was the 
only danger which the wanderer had to fear. I 
therefore paused and looked round in the direc- 
tion of the sun, which in the mean while had 
risen somewhat higher above the horizon. 
While I was thus looking up I saw something 
black in the branches of a lofty oak. I thought 
it was a bear and I grasped my sword ; but with 
a human voice, that sounded harsh and ugly, it 
called to me from above : * If I do not nibble 
away the branches up here. Sir Malapert, what 
shall we have to roast you with at midnight ? ' 
And so saying it grinned and made the branches 
rustle, so that my horse grew furious and rushed 
forward with me before I had time to see what 
sort of a devil it really was." 

You must not call it so," said the old fisher- 
man as he crossed himself ; his wife did the same 
silently. Undine looked at the knight with 


sparkling eyes and said : The best of the 
story is that they certainly have not roasted him 
yet ; go on now, you beautiful youth ! " 

The knight continued his narration: "My 
horse was so wild that he almost rushed with 
me against the stems and branches of trees ; he 
was dripping with sweat, and yet would not suf- 
fer himself to be held in. At last he went 
straight in the direction of a rocky precipice ; 
then it suddenly seemed to me as if a tall white 
man threw himself across the path of my wild 
steed ; the horse trembled with fear and stopped : 
I recovered my hold of him, and for the first time 
perceived that my deliverer was no white man, 
but a brook of silvery brightness, rushing down 
from a hill by my side and crossing and imped- 
ing my horse's course." 

Thanks, dear Brook," exclaimed Undine, 
clapping her little hands. The old man, how- 
ever, shook his head and looked down in deep 

"I had scarcely settled myself in the saddle," 
continued Huldbrand, and seized the reins 
.firmly, when a wonderful little man stood at my 


side, diminutive, and ugly beyond conception. 
His complexion was of a yellowish brown, and 
his nose not much smaller than the rest of his 
entire person. At the same time he kept grin- 
ning with stupid courtesy, exhibiting his huge 
mouth, and making a thousand scrapes and bows 
to me. As this farce was now becoming incon- 
venient to me, I thanked him briefly and turned 
about my still trembling steed, thinking either to 
seek another adventure, or in case I met* with 
none, to find my way back, for during my wild 
chase the sun had already passed the meridian ; 
but the little fellow sprang round with the speed 
of lightning and stood again before my horse. 

* Room ! ' I cried, angrily ; * the animal is wild 
and may easily run over you.' — ' Ay, ay ! ' snarled 
the imp, with a grin still more horribly stupid. 

* Give me first some drink-money, for I have 
stopped your horse ; without me you and your 
horse would be now both lying in the stony 
ravine; ugh!' — * Don't make anymore faces,' 
said I, 'and take your money, even if you are 
tellmg lies ; for see, it was the good brook there 
that saved me, and not you, you miserable 



wight ! ' And at the same time I dropped a 
piece of gold into his grotesque cap, which he 
had taken off in his begging. I then trotted on ; 
but he screamed after me, and suddenly with in- 
conceivable quickness was at my side. I urged 
my horse into a gallop ; the imp ran too, making 
at the same time strange contortions with his 
body, half-ridiculous, half-horrible, and holding 
up the gold-piece, he cried, at every leap, ' False 
money ! false coin ! false coin ! false money ! ' 
— and this he uttered with such a hollow sound 
that one would have supposed that after every 
scream he would have fallen dead to the 

*' His horrid red tongue moreover hung far out 
of his mouth. I stopped, perplexed, and asked : 
* What do you mean by this screaming? take 
another piece of gold, take two, but leave me.' 
He then began again his hideous burlesque of 
pohteness, and snarled out : * Not gold, not gold, 
my young gentleman. I have too much of that 
trash myself, as I will show you at once ! ' 

Suddenly it seemed to me as if I could see 
through the solid soil as though it were green 


glass and the smooth earth were as round as a 
ball ; and within, a multitude of goblins were 
making sport with silver and gold ; head over 
heels they were rolling about, pelting each other 
in jest with the precious metals, and provokingly 
blowing the gold-dust in each other's eyes. My 
hideous companion stood partly within and partly 
without ; he ordered the others to reach him up 
heaps of gold, and showing it to me with a laugh, 
he then flung it back agam with a ringing noise 
into the nnmeasurable abyss. 

He then showed the piece of gold I had given 
him to the goblins below, and they laughed them- 
selves half-dead over it and hissed at me. At 
last they all pointed at me with their metal- 
stained fingers, and more and more wildly, and 
more and more densely, and more and more 
madly, the swarm of spirits came clambering up 
to me. I was seized with terror as my horse had 
been before ; I put spurs to him, and I know not 
how far I galloped for the second time wildly into 
the forest. 

**At length, when I again halted, the cool- 
ness of evening was around me. Through the 



branches- of the trees I saw a white foot-path 
gleaming, which I fancied must lead from the 
forest toward the city. I was anxious to work 
my way in that direction ; but a face perfectly 
white and indistinct, with features ever chan- 
ging, kept peering at me between the leaves ; I 
tried to avoid it, but wherever I went it appeared 
also. Enraged at this, I determined at last to 
ride at it, when it gushed forth volumes of foam 
upon me and my horse, obliging us half-blinded 
to make a rapid retreat. Thus it drove us step 
by step ever away from the foot-path, leaving the 
way open to us only in one direction. When we 
advanced in this direction, it kept indeed close 
behmd us, but did not do us the slightest harm. 

Looking around at it occasionally, I per- 
ceived that the white face that had besprinkled 
us with foam belonged to a form equally white 
and of gigantic stature. Many a time I thought 
that it was a moving stream, but I could never 
convince myself on the subject. Wearied out, 
the horse and his rider yielded to the impeUing 
power of the white man, who kept nodding his 
head, as if he would say, * Quite right, quite 


right ! ' And thus at last we came out here to 
the end of the forest, where I saw the turf, and 
the lake, and your little cottage, and where the 
tall white man disappeared/' 

" It's well that he's gone,'' said the old fisher- 
man ; and now he began to talk of the best way 
by which his guest could return to his friends in 
the c^'ty. Upon this Undine began to laugh 
slyly to herself ; Huldbrand observed it, and 
said: *' I thought you were glad to see me 
here ; why then do you now rejoice when my 
departure is talked of ? '' 

Because you cannot go away," replied Un- 
dine. Just try it once, to cross that over- 
flowed forest stream with a boat, with your 
horse, or alone, as you may fancy. Or rather 
don't try it, for you would be dashed to pieces 
by the stones and trunks of trees which are car- 
ried down by it with the speed of lightning. 
And as to the lake, I know it well ; father dare 
not venture out far enough with his boat." 

Huldbrand rose, smiling, in order to see 
whether things were as Undine had said ; the 
old man accompanied him, and the girl danced 



merrily along by their side. They found every- 
thing, indeed, as Undine had described, and the 
knight was obliged to submit to remain on the 
little tongue of land, that had become an island, 
till the flood should subside. As the three were 
returning to the cottage after their ramble, the 
knight whispered in the ear of the little maiden : 
Well, how is it, my pretty Undine — are you 
angry at my remaining?" 

Ah !" she replied, peevishly, let me alone. 
If I had not bitten you, who knows how much 
of Bertalda would have appeared in your story?" 





After having been much driven to and fro 
in the world, you have perhaps, my dear reader, 
reached at length some spot where all was well 
with thee ; where the love for home and its calm 
peace, innate to all, has again sprung up within 
thee ; where thou hast thought that this home 
was rich with all the flowers of childhood and 
of the purest, deepest love that rests upon the 
graves of those that are gone, and thou hast felt 
it must be good to dwell here and to build habita- 
tions. Even if thou hast erred in this, and hast 
had afterward bitterly to atone for the error, that 
is nothing to the purpose now, and thou wouldst 
not, indeed, voluntarily sadden thyself with the 
unpleasant recollection. But recall that inex- 
pressibly sweet foreboding, that angelic sense 



of peace, and thou wilt know somewhat of the 
knight Huldbrand's feelings during his abode on 
the little promontory. 

He often perceived with hearty satisfaction 
that the forest stream rolled along every day 
more wildly, making its bed ever broader and 
broader, and prolonging his sojourn on the 
island to an indefinite period. Part of the day 
he rambled about with an old cross-bow, which 
he had found in a corner of the cottage and had 
repaired ; and, watching for the water-fowl, he 
killed all that he could for the cottage kitchen. 
When he brought his booty home. Undine rarely 
neglected to upbraid him with having so cruelly 
deprived the happy birds of life ; indeed she 
often wept bitterly at the sight he placed before 
her. But if he came home another time without 
having shot anything she scolded him no less 
seriously, since now, from his carelessness and 
want of skill, they had to be satisfied with living 
on fish. He always delighted heartily in her 
graceful little scoldings, all the more as she 
generally strove to compensate for her ill-humor 
by the sweetest caresses. 



The old people took pleasure in the intimacy 
of the young pair ; they regarded them as be- 
trothed, or even as already united in marriage, 
and living on this isolated spot, as a succor and 
support to them in their old age. It v^as this 
same sense of seclusion that suggested the idea 
also to Huldbrand's mind that he was already 
Undine's accepted one. He felt as if there were 
no world beyond these surrounding waters, or 
as if he could never recross them to mingle with 
other men; and when at times his grazing horse 
would neigh as if inquiringly to remind him of 
knightly deeds, or when the coat of arms on his 
embroidered saddle and horse-gear shone sternly 
upon him, or when his beautiful sword would 
suddenly fall from the nail on which it was 
hanging in the cottage, gliding from the scab- 
bard as it fell, he would quiet the doubts of 
his mind by saying: *' Undine is no fisherman's 
daughter ; she belongs in all probability to some 
illustrious family abroad.*' There was only one 
thing to which he had a strong aversion, and 
this was, when the old dame reproved Undine 
in his 'presence. The wayward girl, it is true, 



laughed at it for the most part, without attempti 
ing to conceal her mirth ; but it seemed to him 
as if his honor were concerned, and yet he could 
not blame the old fisherman^s wife, for Undine 
always deserved at least ten times as many re^ 
proofs as she received ; so, in his heart he felt 
the balance in favor of the old woman, and his 
whole life flowed onward in calm enjoyment. 

There came, however, an interruption at last. 
The fisherman and the knight had been accuse 
tomed at their mid-day meal, and also in the 
evening when the wind roared without, as it was 
always wont to do toward night, to enjoy to- 
gether a flask of wine. But now the store which 
the fisherman had from time to time brought 
with him from the town, was exhausted, and 
the two men were quite out of humor in conse- 

Undine laughed at them excessively all day, 
but they were neither of them merry enough to 
join in her jests as usual. Toward evening she 
went out of the cottage to avoid, as she said, 
two such long and tiresome faces. As twilight 
advanced, there were again tokens of a storm, 



and the water rushed and roared. Full of alarm, 
the knight and the fisherman sprang to the door, 
to bring home the girl, remembering the anxiety 
of that night when Huldbrand had first come to 
the cottage. Undine, however, met them, clap- 
ping her little hands with delight. " What will 
you give me," she said, to provide you with 
wine?" or rather, "you need not give me any- 
thing," she continued, for I am satisfied if you 
will look merrier and be in better spirits than 
you have been throughout this whole wearisome 
day. Only come with me ; the forest stream 
has driven ashore a cask, and I will be con- 
demned to sleep through a whole week if it is 
not a wine-cask." The men followed her, and 
in a sheltered creek on the shore, they actually 
found a cask, which inspired them with the hope 
that it contained the generous drink for which 
they were thirsting. 

They at once rolled it as quickly as possible 
toward the cottage, for the western sky was 
overcast with heavy storm-clouds, and they 
could observe in the twilight the waves of the 
lake raising their white, foaming heads, as if 



looking out for the rain which was presently to 
pour down upon them. Undine helped the men 
as much as she was able, and when the storm of 
rain suddenly burst over them, she said, with 
a merry threat to the heavy clouds: ''Come, 
come, take care that you don't wet us ; we are 
still some way from shelter." The old man 
reproved her for this, as simple presumption, 
but she laughed softly to herself, and no mis- 
chief befell any one in consequence of her levity. 
'Nay, more; contrary to all expectation, they 
reached the comfortable hearth with their booty 
perfectly dry, and it was not till they had opened 
the cask, and had proved that it contained some 
wonderfully excellent wine, that the rain burst 
forth from the dark cloud, and the storm raged 
among the tops of the trees, and over the agi- 
tated billows of the lake. 

Several bottles were soon filled from the great 
cask, which promised a supply for many days, 
and they were sitting drinking and jesting round 
the glowing fire, feeling comfortcibly secured 
from the raging storm without. Suddenly the 
old fisherman became very grave and said : 



Ah, great God ! here we are rejoicing over 
this rich treasure, and he to whom it once be- 
longed, and of whom the floods have robbed it, 
has probably los this precious life in their waters." 

"That he has not," declared Undine, as she 
smilingly filled the knight's cup to the brim. 

But Huldbrand replied: ** By my honor, old 
father, if I knew where to find and to rescue 
him, no knightly errand and no danger would I 
shirk. So much, however, I can promise you, 
that if ever again I reach more inhabited lands, 
I will find out the owner of this wine or his heirs, 
and requite it twofold, nay, threefold." 

This delighted the old man ; he nodded 
approvingly to the knight, and drained his cup 
with a better conscience and greater pleasure. 

Undine, however, said to Huldbrand: ''Do 
as you will with your gold and your reimburse- 
ment ; but you spoke foolishly about the ven- 
turing out in search ; I should cry my eyes out, 
if you were lost in the attempt, and isn't it true, 
that you would yourself rather stay with me and 
the good wine? " 

** Yes, indeed," answered Huldbrand, smiling. 



Then," said Undine, " you spoke unwisely. 
For charity begins at home, and what do other 
people concern us ? 

The old woman turned away sighing and shak- 
ing her head ; the fisherman forgot his wonted 
affection for the pretty girl and scolded her. 

It sounds exactly,'' said he, as he finished 
his reproof, "as if Turks and heathens had 
brought you up ; may God forgive both me and 
you, you spoiled child." 

Weil," replied Undine, for all that, it is 
what I feel, let who will have brought me up, 
and all your words can't help that." 

''Silence!" exclaimed the fisherman, and 
Undine, who, in spite of her pertness, was ex- 
ceedingly fearful, shrank from him, and moving 
tremblingly toward Huldbrand, asked him in a 
soft tone : " Are you also angry, dear friend .^^ " 

The knight pressed her tender hand and 
stroked her hair. He could say nothing, for 
vexation at the old man's severity toward Undine 
closed his lips ; and thus the two couples sat 
opposite to each other, with angry feelings and 
embarrassed silence. 




A LOW knocking at the door was heard in the 
midst of this stillness, startling all the inmates 
of the cottage ; for there are times when a little 
circumstance, happenmg quite unexpectedly, 
can unduly alarm us. But there was here the 
additional cause of alarm that the enchanted 
forest lay so near, and that the little promontory 
seemed just now inaccessible to human bemgs. 
They looked at each other doubtingly, as the 
knocking was repeated accompanied by a deep 
groan, and the knight sprang to reach his sword. 
But the old man whispered softly: If it be 
what I fear, no weapon will help us." 

Undine meanwhile approached the door and 
called out angrily and boldly: ''Spirits of the 
earth, if you wish to carry on your mischief, 
Kuhleborn shall teach you something better." 



The terror of the rest was increased by these 
mysterious words ; they looked fearfully at the 
girl, and Huldbrand was just regaining courage 
enough to ask what she meant, when a voice 
said without : "I am no s^iri^qfjthe earth, but 
a spirit indeed still within its earthly body. 
You within the cottage, if you fear God and will 
help me, open to me.*" At these words, Undine 
had already opened the door, and had held a 
lamp out in the stormy night, by which they 
perceived an aged priest standing there, who 
stepped back in terror at the unexpected sight 
of the beautiful maiden. He might well think 
that witchcraft and magic were at work when 
such a lovely form appeared at such an humble 
cottage door: he therefore began to pray: 

All good spirits praise the Lord ! " 

*'I am no spectre," said Undine, smiling; 

do 1 then look so ugly ? Besides you may see 
the holy words do not frighten me. I too know 
of God, and understand how to praise Him; 
every one to be sure in his own way, for so He 
has created us. Come in, venerable father; 
you come among good people." 


The holy man entered, bowing and looking 
round him, with a profound, yet tender de- 
meanor. But the water was dropping from 
every fold of his dark garment, and from his 
long white beard and from his gray locks. The 
fisherman and the knight took him to another 
apartment and furnished him with other clothes, 
while they gave the women his own wet attire 
to dry. The aged stranger thanked them hum- 
bly and courteously, but he w^ould on no account 
accept the knight's splendid mantle, which was 
offered to him ; but he chose instead an old 
gray overcoat belonging to the fisherman. They 
then returned to the apartment, and the good 
old dame immediately vacated her easy-chair 
for the reverend father, and would not rest till 
he had taken possession of it. *' For," said 
she, "you are old and exhausted, and you are 
moreover a man of God.'' Undine pushed 
under the stranger's feet her little stool, on 
which she had been wont to sit by the side of 
Huldbrand, and she showed herself in every 
way most gentle and kind in her care of the 
good old man. Huldbrand whispered some 



raillery at it in her ear, but she replied very 
seriously : He is a servant of Him who created 
us all ; holy things are not to be jested with." 
The knight and the fisherman then refreshed 
their reverend guest with food and wine, and 
when he had somewhat recovered himself, he 
began to relate how he had the day before set 
out from his cloister, which lay far beyond the 
great lake, intending to travel to the bishop, in 
order to acquaint him with the distress into 
which the monastery and its tributary villages 
had fallen on account of the extraordinary 

After a long, circuitous route, which these very 
floods had obliged him to take, he had been this 
day compelled, toward evening, to procure the 
aid of a couple of good boatmen to cross an arm 
of the lake, which had overflowed its banks. 

" Scarcely however,*^ continued he, had our 
small craft touched the waves, than that furious 
tempest burst forth which is now raging over our 
heads. It seemed as if the waters had only 
waited for us, to commence their wildest whirl- 
ing dance with our little boat. The oars were 


soon torn out of the hands of my men, and were 
dashed by the force of the waves further and 
further beyond our reach. We ourselves, yield- 
ing to the resistless powers of nature, helplessly 
drifted over the surging billows of the lake toward 
your distant shore, which we already saw loom- 
ing through the mist and foam. Presently our 
boat turned round and round as in a giddy whirl- 
pool ; I know not whether it was upset, or whether 
1 fell overboard. In a vague terror of inevitable 
death I drifted on, till a wave cast me here, 
under the trees on your island." 

Yes, island ! " cried the fisherman ; "a short 
time ago it was only a point of land ; but now, 
since the forest-stream and the lake have become 
well-nigh bewitched, things are quite different 
with us." 

" I remarked something of the sort," said the 
priest, '*as I crept along the shore in the dark, 
and hearing nothing but the uproar around me, 
I at last perceived that a beaten foot-path disap- 
peared just in the direction from which the sound 
proceeded. I now saw the light in your cottage, 
and ventured hither, and I cannot sufficiently 



thank my heavenly Father that after preserving 
me from the vi^aters, He has led me to such good 
and pious people as you are ; and I feel this all 
the more, as I do not know whether I shall ever 
behold any other beings in this world, except 
those I now address.'^ 

What do you mean?^' asked the fisherman. 

Do you know then how long this commotion 
of the elements is to last ? " replied the holy man. 

And I am old in years. Easily enough may the 
stream of my life run itself out before the over- 
flowing of the forest-stream may subside. And 
indeed it were not impossible that more and more 
of the foaming waters may force their way be- 
tween you and yonder forest, until you are so far 
sundered from the rest of the world that your 
little fishing-boat will no longer be sufficient to 
carry you across, and the inhabitants of the con- 
tinent in the midst of their diversions will have 
entirely forgotten you in your old age." 

The fisherman's wife started at this, crossed 
herself and exclaimed, God forbid ! " But her 
husband looked at her with a smile, and said : 
** What creatures we are after all ! even were it 


so, things would not be very different — at least 
not for you, dear wife — than they now are. 
For have you for many years been further than 
the edge of the forest ? and have you seen any 
other human beings than Undine and myself? 
The knight and this holy man have only come 
to us lately. They will remain with us if we do 
become a forgotten island ; so you would even 
be a gainer by it after all." 

I don't know,'' said the old w^oman ; " it is 
somehow a gloomy thought, when one imagines 
that one is irrecoverably separated from other 
people, although, were it otherwise, one might 
neither know nor see them." 

Then you will remain with us! then you 
will remain with us ! " whispered Undine, in a 
low, half-singing tone, as she nestled closer 
to Huldbrand's side. But he was absorbed 
in ,the deep and strange visions of his own 

The region on the other side of the forest- 
river seemed to dissolve into distance during the 
priest's last words ; and the blooming island 
upon which he lived grew more green, and 



smiled more freshly in his mind^s vision. His 
beloved one glowed as the fairest rose of this 
little spot of earth, and even of the whole world, 
and the priest was actually there. Added to this, 
at that moment an angry glance from the old 
dame was directed at the beautiful girl, because 
even in the presence of the reverend father she 
leaned so closely on the knight, and it seemed 
as if a torrent of reproving words were on the 
point of following. Presently, turning to the 
priest, Huldbrand broke forth: Venerable 
father, you see before you here a pair pledged 
to each other ; and if this maiden and these good 
old people have no objection, you shall unite us 
this very evening." The aged couple were ex- 
tremely surprised. They had, it is true, hitherto 
often thought of something of the sort, but they 
had never yet expressed it, and when the knight 
now spoke thus, it came upon them as some- 
thing wholly new and unprecedented. 

Undine had become suddenly grave, and 
looked down thoughtfully while the priest 
inquired respecting the circumstances of the 
case, and asked if the old people gave their 


consent. After much discussion together, the 
matter was settled ; the old dame went to 
arrange the bridal chamber for the young peo- 
ple, and to look out two consecrated tapers which 
she had had in her possession for some time, 
and which she thought essential to the nuptial 
ceremony. The knight in the mean while exam- 
ined his gold chain, from which he wished to 
disengage two rings, that he might make an 
exchange of them with his bride. 

She, however, observing what he was doing, 
started up from her reverie, and exclaimed : 
** Not so! my parents have not sent me into 
the world quite destitute ; on the contrary, they 
must have anticipated with certainty that such 
an evening as this would come." Thus saying, 
she quickly left the room and reappeared in a 
moment with two costly rings, one of which she 
^ave to her bridegroom, and kept the other for 
herself. The old fisherman was extremely 
astonished at this, and still more so his wife, 
who just then entered, for neither had ever seen 
these jewels in the child's possession. 

*'My parents," said Undine, ** sewed these 



little things into the beautiful frock which I had 
on, when I came to you. They forbid me, 
moreover, to mention them to anyone before 
my wedding evening, so I secretly took them» 
and kept them concealed until now." 

The priest interrupted all further questionings 
by lighting the consecrated tapers, which he 
placed upon a table, and summoned the bridal 
pair to stand opposite to him. He then gave 
them to each other with a few short solemn 
words ; the elder couple gave their blessing to 
the younger, and the bride, trembling and 
thoughtful, leaned upon the knight. Then 
the priest suddenly said: You are strange 
people after all. Why did you tell me you 
were the only people here on the island? and 
during the whole ceremony, a tall stately man, 
in a v/hite mantle, has been looking at me 
through the window opposite. He must still be 
standing before the door, to see if you will invite 
him to come into the house."*' 

*' God forbid," said the old dame with a start ; 
the fisherman shook his head in silence, and 
Huldbrand sprang to the window. It seemed 


even to him as if he could still see a white 
streak, but it soon completely disappeared in 
the darkness. He convinced the priest that he 
must have been absolutely mistaken, and they 
all sat down together round the hearth 





Both before and during the ceremony, Un- 
dine had shown herself gentle and quiet ; but 
it now seemed as if all the wa^^ard humors 
which rioted within her, burst forth all the 
more boldly and unrestrainedly. She teased 
her bridegroom and her foster-parents, and 
even the holy man whom she had so lately rev- 
erenced, with alt sorts of childish tricks ; and 
when the old woman was about to reprove her, 
she was quickly silenced by a few grave words 
from the knight, speaking of Undine now as 
his wife. Nevertheless, the knight himself was 
equally little pleased with Undine's childish 
behavior ; but no signs, and no reproachful 
words were of any avail. It is true, whenever 
the bride noticed her husband's dissatisfaction 


— and this occurred occasionally — she became 
more quiet, sat down by his side, caressed him, 
whispered somethmg smilingly mto his ear, and 
smoothed the wrinkles that were gathering on 
his brow. But immediately afterward, some 
wild freak would again lead her to return to her 
ridiculous proceedings, and matters would be 
worse than before. At length the priest said in 
a serious and kind tone : My fair young maiden, 
no one indeed can look at you without delight ; 
but remember so to attune your soul betimes, 
that it may ever harmonize with that of your 
wedded husband. 

** Soul ! " said Undine, laughing ; that sounds 
pretty enough, and may be a very edifying and 
useful caution for most people. But when one 
hasn't a soul at all, I beg you, what is there to 
attune then? and that is my case." The priest 
was silent and deeply wounded, and with holy 
displeasure he turned his face from the girl. 
She,, however, went up to him caressingly, and 
said: '*No! listen to me first, before you look 
angry, for your look of anger gives me pain, and 
you must not give pain to any creature who has 



done you no wrong — only have patience with 
me, and 1 will tell you properly what I mean." 

It was evident that she was preparing herself 
to explain something in detail, but suddenly she 
hesitated, as if seized with an inward shuddering^ 
and burst out into a flood of tears. They none 
of them knew what to make of this ebullition, 
and filled with various apprehensions they gazed 
at her in silence. At length, wiping away her 
tears, and looking earnestly at the reverend man, 
she said : *' There must be something beautiful, 
but at the same time extremely awful, about a 
soul. Tell me, holy sir, were it not better that 
we never shared such a gift ? " She was silent 
again as if waiting for an answer, and her tears 
had ceased to flow. All in the cottage had risen 
from their seats and had stepped back from her 
with horror. She, however, seemed to have eyes 
for no one but the holy man ; her features wore 
an expression of fearful curiosity, which appeared 
terrible to those who saw her. " The soul must 
be a heavy burden," she continued, as no one 
answered her, "very heavy! for even its ap- 
proaching image overshadows me with anxiety 


and sadness. And, ah! I was so light-hearted 
and so merry till now ! ^' And she burst into a 
fresh flood of tears, and covered her face with 
the drapery she wore. Then the priest went up 
to her with a solemn air, and spoke to her, and 
conjured her by the name of the Most Holy to 
cast aside the veil that enveloped her, if any 
spirit of evil possessed her. But she sank on 
her knees before him, repeating all the sacred 
words he uttered, praising God, and protest- 
ing that she wished well with the whole 

Then at last the priest said to the knight : 
*' Sir bridegroom, I will leave you alone with 
her whom I have united to you in marriage. 
So far as I can discover there is nothing of evil 
in her, but much indeed that is mysterious. I 
commend to you — prudence, love, and fidelity." 
So saying, he went out, and the fisherman and 
his wife followed him, crossing themselves. 

Undine had sunk on her knees ; she unveiled 
her face and said, looking timidly round on 
Huldbrand : **Alas! you will surely now not 
keep me as your own ; and yet I have done no 



evil, poor child that I am ! ^' As she said this, 
she looked so exquisitely graceful and touching, 
that her bridegroom forgot all the horro-r he had 
felt, and all the mystery that clung to her, and 
hastening to her he raised her in his arms. She 
smiled through her tears ; it was a smile like 
the morning-light playing on a little stream. 
** You cannot leave me," she whispered, with 
confident security, stroking the knight's cheek 
with her tender hand. Huldbrand tried to d«is- 
miss the fearful thoughts that still lurked in the 
background of his mind, persuading him that he 
was married to a fairy or to some malicious and 
mischievous being of the spirit world, only the 
single question half unawares escaped his lips : 
** My little Undine, tell me this one thing, what 
was it you said of spirits of the earth and of 
Kuhleborn, when the priest knocked at the 

**It was nothing but fairy tales! — children's 
fairy tales ! " said Undine, with all her wonted 
gayety; I frightened you at first with them, 
and then you frightened me, that's the end 
our story and of our nuptial evening." 


capricious spirit burst forth. But they waited 
in vain for it. Undine remained as mild and 
gentle as an angel. The holy father could not 
take his eyes from her, and he said repeatedly 
to the bridegroom : ** The goodness of heaven, 
sir, has intrusted a treasure to you yesterday 
through me, unworthy as I am ; cherish it as 
you ought, and it will promote your temporal 
and eternal welfare." 

Toward evening Undine was hanging on the 
knight's arm with humble tenderness, and drew 
him gently out of the door, where the declining 
sun was shining pleasantly on the fresh grass, 
and upon the tall, slender stems of the trees. 
The eyes of the young wife were moist, as with 
the dew of sadness and love, and a tender and 
fearful secret seemed hovenng on her lips, 
which, however, was only disclosed by scarcely 
audible sighs. She led her husband onward 
and onward in silence ; when he spoke, she only 
answered him with looks, in which, it is true, 
there lay no direct reply to his inquiries, but a 
whole heaven of love and timid devotion. Thus 
they reached the edge of the swollen forest 



stream, and the knight was astonished to see it 
rippling along in gentle waves, without a trace 
of its former wildness and swell. ** By the 
morning it will be quite dry," said the beautiful 
wife, in a regretful tone, and you can then 
travel away wherever you will, without anything 
to hinder you." 

Not without you, my little Undine," replied 
the knight, laughing; remember, even if I 
wished to desert you, the church, and the spirit- 
ual powers, and the emperor, and the empire 
would interpose and bring the fugitive back 

**A11 depends upon you, all depends upon 
you," whispered his wife, half-weeping and half- 
smiling. I think, however, nevertheless, that 
you will keep me with you ; I love you so 
heartily. Now carry me across to that little 
island that lies before us. The matter shall be 
decided there. I could easily indeed glide 
through the rippling waves, but it is so restful 
in your arms, and if you were to cast me off, I 
shall have sweetly rested in them once more for 
the last time." Huldbrand, full as he was of 


strange fear and emotion, knew not what to 
reply. He took her in his arms and carried her 
across, remembering now for the first time that 
this was the same httle island from which he 
had borne her back to the old fisherman on that 
first night. On the further side he put her 
down on the soft grass, and was on the pomt of 
placing himself lovingly near his beautiful bur- 
den, when she said: No, there opposite to 
me ! I will read my sentence in your eyes, 
before your lips speak ; now, listen attentively 
to what I will relate to you.'' And she began : — 
You must know, my loved one, that there 
are beings in the elements which almost appear 
like mortals, and which rarely allow themselves 
to become visible to your race. Wonderful 
salamanders glitter and sport in the flames ; 
lean and malicious gnomes dwell deep within 
the earth ; spirits, belonging to the air, wander 
through the forests, and a vast family of water- 
spirits live in the lakes, and streams, and brooks . 
In resoundmg domes of crystal, through which 
the sky looks in with its sun and stars » these 
latter spirits find their beautiful abode; lofty 



trees of coral with blue and crimson fruits gleam 
in their gardens ; they wander over the pure 
sand of the sea, and among lovely variegated 
shells, and amid all exquisite treasures of the 
old world, which the present is no longer worthy 
to enjoy ; all these the floods have covered with 
their secret veils of silver, and the noble monu- 
ments sparkle below, stately and solemn, and 
bedewed by the loving waters which allure from 
them many a beautiful moss-flower and entwin- 
ing cluster of sea-grass. Those, however, who 
dwell there are very fair and lovely to behold, 
and for the most part are more beautiful than 
human beings. Many a fisherman has been so 
fortunate as to surprise some tender mermaid as 
she rose above the waters and sang. He would 
tell afar of her beauty, and such wonderful 
beings have been given the name of Undines. 
You, however, are now actually beholding an 

The knight tried to persuade himself that his 
beautiful wife was under the spell of one of her 
strange humors, and that she was taking pleas- 
ure in teasing him with one of her extravagant 


inventions. But repeatedly as he said this to 
himself, he could not believe it for a moment ; 
a strange shudder passed through him ; unable 
to utter a word, he stared at the beautiful nar- 
rator with an immovable gaze. Undine shook 
her head sorrowfully, drew a deep sigh, and then 
proceeded as follows : — 

** Our condition would be far superior to that 
of other human beings — for human beings we 
call ourselves, being similar to them in form 
and culture — but there is one evil peculiar to 
us. We and our like in the other elements, 
vanish into dust and pass away, body and spirit, 
so that not a vestige of us remains behind ; and 
when you mortals hereafter awake to a purer 
life, we remain with the sand and the sparks and 
the wind and the waves. Hence we have also 
no souls ; the element moves us, and is often 
obedient to us while we live, though it scatters 
us to dust when we die ; and we are merry, 
without having aught to grieve us — merry as 
the nightingales and the little gold-fishes and 
other pretty children of nature. But all things 
aspire to be higher than they are. Thus, my 



father, who is a powerful water-prince in the 
Mediterranean Sea, desired that his only daugh- 
ter should become possessed of a soul, even 
though she must then endure many of the suf- 
ferings of those thus endowed. Such as we are, 
however, can only obtain a. soul by the closest- 
union of affection with one of your human. race. 
I am now possessed of a soul, and my soul 
thanks you, my inexpressibly beloved one, and 
it will ever thank you, if you do not make my 
whole life miserable. For what is to become of 
me, if you avoid and reject me? Stdl, I would 
not retain you by deceit. And if you mean to 
reject me, do so now, and return alone to the 
shore. I will dive into this brook, which is my 
uncle ; and here in the forest, far removed from 
other friends, he passes his strange and solitary 
life. He is, however, powerful, and is esteemed 
and beloved by many great streams ; and as he 
brought me hither to the fisherman, a light- 
hearted, laughing child, he will take me back 
again to my parents, a loving, suffering, and 
soul-endowed woman." 

She was about to say still more, but Huld- 


** Nay! that it isn't," said the knight, intoxi- 
cated with love, and extinguishing the tapers, 
he bore his beautiful beloved to the bridal 
chamber by the light of the moon which shone 
brightly through the winaows. 





The fresh light of the morning awoke the 
young married pair. Wonderful and horrible 
dreams had disturbed Huldbrand's rest ; he had 
been haunted by spectres, who, grinning at him 
by stealth, had tried to disguise themselves as 
beautiful women, and from beautiful women they 
all at once assumed the faces of dragons, and 
when he started up from these hideous visions, 
the moonlight shone pale and cold into the 
room ; terrified he looked at Undine, who still 
lay in unaltered beauty and grace. Then he 
would press a light kiss upon her rosy lips, and 
would fall asleep again only to be awakened by 
new terrors. After he had reflected on all this, 
now that he was fully awake, he reproached 
himself for any doubt that could have led him 
into error with regard to his beautiful wife. 
He begged her to forgive him for the injustice 


he had done her, but she only held out to 
him her fair hand, sighed deeply, and remained 
silent. But a glance of exquisite fervor beamed 
from her eyes such as he had never seen before, 
carrying with it the full assurance that Undine 
bore him no ill-will. He then rose cheerfully 
and left her, to join his friends in the common 

He found the three sitting round the hearth, 
with an air of anxiety about them, as if they 
dared not venture to speak aloud. The priest 
seemed to be praying in his inmost spirit that 
all evil might be averted. When, however, 
they saw the young husband come forth so 
cheerfully the careworn expression of their faces 

The old fisherman even began to jest with 
the knight, so pleasantly that the aged wife 
smiled good-humoredly as she listened to them. 
Undine at length made her appearance. All 
rose to meet her, and all stood still with sur- 
prise, for the young wife seemed so strange to 
them and yet the same. The priest was the 
first to advance toward her, with paternal affec- 



tion beaming m his face, and, as he raised his 
hand to bless her, the beautiful woman sank 
reverently on her knees before him. With a 
few humble and gracious words she begged him 
to forgive her for any foolish things she might 
have said the evening before, and entreated him 
in an agitated tone to pray for the welfare of 
her soul. She then rose, kissed her foster- 
parents, and thanking them for all the goodness 
they had shown her, she exclaimed: '*0h! I 
now feel in my innermost heart, how much, how 
infinitely much, you have done for me, dear, 
kind people ! " She could not at first desist 
from her caresses, but scarcely had s4ie per- 
ceived that the old woman was busy in prepar- 
ing breakfast, than she went to the hearth, 
cooked and arranged the meal, and would not 
suffer the good old mother to take the least 

She continued thus throughout the whole 
day, quiet, kind, and attentive — at once a little 
matron and a tender, bashful girl. The three 
who had known her longest expected every 
moment to see some whimsical vagary of her 


brand embraced her with the most heartfelt 
emotion and love, and bore her back again to 
the shore. It was not till he reached it, that he 
swore amid tears and kisses, never to forsake 
his sweet wife, calling himself more happy than 
the Greek Pygmalion, whose beautiful statue 
received life from Venus and became his loved 
one. In endearing confidence. Undine walked 
back to the cottage, leaning on his arm ; feeling 
now for the first time, with all her heart, how 
little she ought to regret the forsaken crystal 
palaces of her mysterious father. 





When Huldbrand awoke from his sleep on 
the following morning, and missed his beautiful 
wife from his side, he began to indulge again in 
the strange thoughts, that his marriage and the 
charming Undine herself were but fleeting and 
deceptive illusions. But at the same moment 
she entered the room, sat down beside him, and 
said: I have been out rather early to see if 
my uncle keeps his word. He has already led 
all the waters back again into his own calm 
channel, and he now flows through the forest, 
solitarily and dreamily as before. His friends 
in the water and the air have also returned to 
repose ; all will again go on quietly and regu- 
larly, and you can travel homeward when you 
will, dry-shod." It seemed to Huldbrand as 
though he were in a waking dream, so little 


could he reconcile himself to the strange rela- 
tionship of his wife. Nevertheless he made no 
remark on the matter, and the exquisite grace 
of his bride soon lulled to rest every uneasy 
misgiving. When he was afterward standing 
before the door with her, and looking over 
the green peninsula with its boundary of clear 
waters, he felt so happy in this cradle of his 
love, that he exclaimed : " Why shall we travel 
60 soon as to-day? We shall scarcely find more 
pleasant days in the world yonder than those 
we have spent in this quiet little shelter. Let 
us yet see the sun go down here twice or thrice 

** As my lord wills," replied Undine, humbly. 
** It is only that the old people will, at all events, 
part from me with pain, and when they now for 
the first time perceive the true soul within me, 
and how I can now heartily love and honor, 
their feeble eyes will be dimmed with plentiful 
tears. At present they consider my quietness 
and gentleness of no better promise than before, 
like the calmness of the lake when the air is 
still ; and, as matters now^ are, they will soon 



learn to cherish a flower or a tree as they have 
cherished me. Do not, therefore, let me reveal 
to them this newly-bestowed and loving heart, 
just at the moment when they must lose it for 
this world ; and how could I conceal it, if we 
remain longer together?" 

Huldbrand conceded the point ; he went to 
the aged people and talked with them over the 
journey, which he proposed to undertake imme- 
diately. The holy father offered to accompany 
the young married pair, and, after a hasty fare- 
well, he and the knight assisted the beautiful 
bride to mount her horse, and walked with rapid 
step by her side over the dry channel of the 
forest-stream into the wood beyond. Undine 
wept silently but bitterly, and the old people 
gave loud expression to their grief. It seemed 
as if they had a presentiment of all they were 
now losing in their foster-child. 

The three travellers had reached in silence the 
densest shades of the forest. It must have been 
a fair sight, under that green canopy of leaves^ 
to see Undine's lovely form, as she sat on her 
noble and richly ornamented steed, with the 


venerable priest in the white garb of his order 
on one side of her, and on the other the bloom- 
ing young kn'^'ht in his gay and splendid attire, 
with his sword at his girdle. Huldbrand had 
no eyes but for his beautiful wife ; Undine, who 
had dried her tears, had no eyes but for him, 
and they soon fell into a mute, voiceless converse 
of glance and gesture, from which they were 
only roused at length by the low talking of the 
reverend father with a fourth traveller, who in 
the mean while had joined them unobserved. 

He wore a white garment almost resembling 
the dress of the priest^s order, except that his 
hood hung low over his face, and his whole 
attire floated round him in such vast folds that 
he was obliged every moment to gather it up, 
and throw it over his arm, or dispose of it in 
some way, and yet it did not in the least seem 
to impede his movements. When the young 
couple first perceived him, he was just saying: 
** And so, venerable sir, I have now dwelt for 
many years here in the forest, and yet no one 
could call me a hermit, in your sense of the 
word. For, as I said, I know nothing of pen- 



ance, and I do not think I have any especial 
need of it. I love the forest only for this reason, 
that its beauty is quite peculiar to itself, and it 
amuses me to pass along in my flowing white 
garments among the leaves and dusky shadows, 
while now and then a sweet sunbeam shines 
down unexpectedly upon me." 

** You are a very strange man," replied the 
priest, *'and I should like to be more closely 
acquainted with you." 

** And to pass from one thing to another, who 
may you be yourself ? " asked the stranger. 

** I am called Father Heilmann," said the 
holy man ; and I come from the monastery of 
' our Lady ' which lies on the other side of the 

Indeed," replied the stranger; *' my name 
is Klihleborn, and so far as courtesy is con- 
cerned, I might claim the title of Lord of Klihle- 
born, or free Lord of Klihleborn ; for I am as 
free as the birds in the forest and perhaps a little 
more so. For example, I have now something 
to say to the young lady there." And before 
they were aware of his intention, he was at the 


other side of the priest, close beside Undine, 
stretching himself up to whisper something in 
her ear. 

But she turned from him with alarm, and 
exclaimed: have nothing more to do with 

** Ho, ho,-' laughed the stranger, what is 
this immensely grand marriage you have made, 
that you don't know your own relations any 
longer? Have you forgotten your uncle Kuhle- 
born, who so faithfully bore you on his back 
through this region?" 

** I beg you, nevertheless," replied Undine, 
** not to appear in my presence again. I am 
now afraid of you ; and suppose my husband 
should learn to avoid me when he sees me in 
such strange company and with such relations ! " 

" My little niece," said Kiihleborn, you must 
not forget that I am with you here as a guide ; 
the spirits of earth that haunt this place might 
otherwise play some of their stupid pranks with 
you. Let me therefore go quietly on with you; 
the old priest there remembered me better than 
you appear to have done, for he assured me just 



now that I seemed familiar to him, and that I 
must have been with him in the boat, out of 
which he fell into the water. I was so, truly 
enough ; for I was the water-spout that carried 
him out of it and washed him safely ashore for 
your wedding." 

Undine and the knight turned toward Father 
Heilmann ; but he seemed walking on, as in a 
sort of dream, and no longer to be conscious of 
all that was passing. Undine then said to 
Kuhleborn : "I see yonder the end of the for- 
est. We no longer need your help, and nothing 
causes us alarm but yourself. I beg you, there- 
fore, in all love and good-will, vanish, and let 
us proceed in peace." 

Klihleborn seemed to become angry at this ; 
his countenance assumed a frightful expression, 
and he grinned fiercely at Undine, who screamed 
aloud and called upon her husband for assist- 
ance. As quick as lightning, the knight sprang 
to the other side of the horse, and aimed his 
sharp sword at Kuhleborn's head. But the 
sword cut through a waterfall, which was rush- 
ing down near them from a lofty crag ; and with 


a splash, which almost sounded like a burst of 
laughter, it poured over them and wet them 
through to the skin. 

The priest, as if suddenly awaking, exclaimed : 
** I have long been expecting that, for the stream 
ran down from the height so close to us. At 
first it really seemed to me like a man, and as if 
it could speak." As the waterfall came rushing 
down, it distinctly uttered these words in Huld- 
brand's ear : — 

Rash knight, 

Brave knight, 

Rage, feel I not, 

Chide, will I not. 
But ever guard thy little wife as well, 
Kash knight, brave knight ! Protect her well ! '* 

A few footsteps more, and they were upon open 
ground. The imperial city lay bright before 
them, and the evening sun, which gilded its 
towers, kindly dried the garments of the 
drenched wanderers. 





The sudden disappearance of the young 
knight, Huldbrand von Ringstetten. from the 
imperial city, had caused great sensanon and 
soHcitude among those who had admired him, 
both for his skill in tlie tournament and the 
dance, and no less so for his gentle and agree- 
able manners. His servants would not quit the 
place without their master, although not one of 
them would have had the courage to go in quest 
of him into the shadowy recesses of the forest. 
They therefore remained in their quarters, inac- 
tively hoping, as men are wont to do. and keep- 
ing alive the remembrance of their lost lord by 
their lamentations. When, soon after, the vio- 
lent storms and tioods were observed, the less 
doubt was entertained as to the certain destruc- 
tion of the handsome stranger ; and Bertalda 



Openly mourned for him and blamed herself 
for having allured the unfortunate knight into 
the forest. H-er foster-parents, the duke and 
duchess, had come to fetch her away, but Ber- 
talda entreated them to remain with her until 
certain intelligence had been obtained of Huld- 
brand's fate. She endeavored to prevail upon 
several young knights, who were eagerly court- 
ing her, to follow the noble adventurer to the 
forest. But she would not pledge her hand as 
a reward of the enterprise, because she always 
cherished the hope of belonging to the returning 
knight, and no glove, nor riband, nor even kiss, 
would tempt any one to expose his life for the 
sake of bringing back such a dangerous rival. 

When Huldbrand now suddenly a»nd unex- 
pectedly appeared, his servants, and the inhabit- 
ants of the city, and almost every one, rejoiced. 
Bertalda alone refused to do so ; for agreeable as 
it was to the others that he should bring with 
him such a beautiful bride, and Father Heilmann 
as a witness of the marriage, Bertalda could feel 
nothing but grief and vexation. In the first 
place, she had really loved the young knight 



with all her heart, and in the next, her sorrow 
at his absence had proclaimed this far more 
before t^e eyes of all, than was now befitting. 
She still, however, conducted herself as a wise 
maiden, reconciled herself to circumstances, and 
lived on the most friendly terms with Undine, 
who was looked upon throughout the city as a 
princess whom Huldbrand had rescued in the 
forest from some evil enchantment. When she 
or her husband were questioned on the matter, 
they were wise enough to be silent or skilfully to 
evade the inquiries. Father Heilmann^s lips were 
sealed to idle gossip of any kind, and moreover, 
immediately after Huldbrand's arrival, he had 
returned to his monastery ; so that people were 
obliged to be satisfied with their own strange 
conjectures, and even Bertalda herself knew no 
more of the truth than others. 

Day by day. Undine felt her affection increase 
for the fair maiden. "We must have known 
each other before,"" she often used to say to her, 
"or else, there must be some mysterious con- 
nection between us, for one does not love an- 
other as dearly as I have loved you from the first 



moment of our meeting without some cause — 
some deep and secret cause." And Bertalda 
also could not deny the fact that she felt drawn 
to Undine with a tender feeling of confidence, 
however much she might consider that she had 
cause for the bitterest lamentation at this success- 
ful rival. Biassed by this mutual affection, they 
both persuaded — the one her foster-parents, 
the other her husband — to postpone the day of 
departure from time to time ; indeed, it was even 
proposed that Bertalda should accompany Un- 
dine for a time to castle Ringstetten, near the 
source of the Danube. 

They were talking over this plan one beauti- 
ful evening, as they were walking by starlight in 
the large square of the Imperial city, under the 
tall trees that enclose it. The young married 
pair had invited Bertalda to join them in their 
evening walk, and all three were strolling up and 
down under the dark-blue sky, often interrupt- 
ing their familiar talk to admire the magnificent 
fountain in the middle of the square, as its waters 
rushed and bubbled forth with wonderful beauty. 
It hjf>d a soothing happy influence upon them ; 



between the shadows of the trees there stole 
glimmerings of light from the adjacent houses ; 
a low murmur of children at play, and of others 
erioying their walk, floated around them ; they 
were so alone, and yet in the midst of the bright 
and living world ; whatever had appeared diffi- 
cult by day, now became smooth as of itself ; and 
the three friends could no longer understand 
why the slightest lies ation had existed with 
regard to Bertalda^s visit t Ringstetten. Pres- 
ently, just as they were on the point of fixing 
the day for their common departure, a tall man 
approached them from the middle of the square, 
bowed respectfully to the company, and said 
something in the ear of the young wife. Dis- 
pleased as she was at the interruption and its 
cause, she stepped a little aside with the stranger, 
and both began to whisper together, as it seemed, 
in a foreign tongue. Huldbrand fancied he knew 
the strange man, and he stared so fixedly at him 
that he neither heard nor answered Bertalda's 
astonished inquiries. 

All at once Undine, clapping her hands joy- 
fully, and laughing, quitted the stranger's side. 



who, shaking his head, retired hastily and dis- 
contentedly, and vanished in the fountain. Huld- 
brand now felt certain on the point, but Bertalda 
asked: ** And what did the master of the foun- 
tain want with you, dear Undine ? " 

The young wife laughed within herself, and 
replied: *'The day after to-morrow, my dear 
child, on the anniversary of your name-day, you 
shall know it." And nothing more would she 
disclose. She invited Bertalda and sent an invi- 
tation to her foster-parents, to dine with them 
on the appointed day, and soon after they 

Kiihleborn? was it Kuhleborn?'' said Huld- 
brand, with a secret shudder, to his beautiful 
bride, when they had taken leave of Bertalda, 
and were now going home through the darken- 
ing streets. 

*' Yes, it was he,'' replied Undine; *'and he 
was going to say all sorts of nonsensical things 
to me. But, in the midst, quite contrary to his 
intention, he delighted me with a most welcome 
piece of news. If you wish to hear it at once, 
my dear lord and husband, you have but to com- 



mand, and I will tell it you without reserve. But 
if you would confer a real pleasure on your Un- 
dine, you will wait till the day after to-morrow, 
and you will then have your share too in the 

The knight gladly complied with his wife's 
desire, which had been urged so sweetly, and as 
she fell asleep, she murmured smilingly to her- 
self: Dear, dear Bertalda ! How she will 
rejoice and be astonished at what her master of 
the fountain told me ! " 




The company were sitting at dinner; Ben 
talda, looking like some goddess of spring witll 
her flowers and jewels, the presents of her foster- 
parents and friends, was placed between Undine 
and Huldbrand . When the rich repast was ended, 
and the last course had appeared, the doors were 
left open, according to a good old German cus- 
tom, that the common people might look on, 
and take part in the festivity of the nobles. 
Servants were carrying round cake and wine 
among the spectators. Huldbrand and Ber- 
talda were waiting with secret impatience for the 
promised explanation, and sat with their eyes 
fixed steadily on Undine. But the beautiful 
wife still continued silent, and only kept smil- 
ing to herself with secret and hearty satisfaction. 
All who knew of the promise she had given, 

could see that she was every moment on the 
point of betraying her happy secret, and that it 
was with a sort of longing renunciation that she 
withheld it, just as children sometimes delay the 
enjoyment of their choicest morsels. Bertalda 
and Huldbrand shared this delightful feeling, 
and expected with fearful hope the tidings which 
were to fall from the lips of Undine. Several 
*of the company pressed Undine to sing. The 
'request seemed opportune, and ordering her 
lute to be brought, she sang the following 
»words : — 

Bright opening day, 

Wild flowers so gay, 

Tall grasses their thirst that slake, 

On the banks of the billowy lake ! 

What glimmers there so shining 
The reedy growth entwining? 
Is it a blossom white as snow 
Fallen from heav'n here below? 

It is an infant, frail and dear ! 
With flowerets playing in its dreams 
And grasping morning's golden beams; 
Oh! whence, sweet stranger, art thou here? 


Fram some far-off and unknGwn strand, 
- . . The lake has born^ thee to this knd. 

Nay, grasp not tender little one, 
"With thy tiny hand outspread; 
No hand will meet thy touch with love, 
Mute is that flowery bed. 

The flowers can deck themselves so fair 
And breathe forth fragrance blest. 
Yet none can press thee to itself. 
Like that far-off mother's breast. 

So early at the gate of life, 

With smiles of heav'n on thy brow. 

Thou hast the best of treasures lost, 

Poor wand'ring child, nor know'st it now. 

A noble duke comes riding by, 

And near thee checks his courser's speed, 

And full of ardent chivalry 

He bears thee home upon his steed. 

Much, endless much, has been thy gain ! 
Thou bloom'st the fairest in the land ! 
Yet ah ! the priceless joy of all, 
Thou'st left upon an unknown strand. 

Undine dropped her lute with a melancholy 
smile ^ and the eyes of Bertalda's foster-parents 



were filled with tears. Yes, so it was on the 
morning that I found you, my poor sweet 
orphan," said the duke, deeply agitated; **the 
beautiful singer is certainly right ; we have not 
been able to give you that * priceless joy of 

** But we must also hear how it fared with the 
poor parents," said Undine, as she resumed her 
lute, and sang : — 

Thro' every chamber roams the mother, 
Moves and searches everywhere, 
Seeks, she scarce knows what, with sadness, 
And finds an empty house is there. 

An empty house ! Oh, word of sorrow, 
To her who once had been so blest, 
Who led her child about by day 
And cradled it at night to rest. 

The beech is growing green again, 
The sunshine gilds its wonted spot, 
But mother, cease thy searching vain ! 
Thy little loved one cometh not. 

And when the breath of eve blows cool, 

And father in his home appears. 

The smile he almost tries to wear 

Is quenched at once by gushing tears. 


Full well he knows that in his home 
He naught can find but wild despair, 
He hears the mother's grieved lament 
And no bright infant greets him there. 

** Oh ! for God's sake, Undine, where are my 
parents?'' cried the weeping Bertalda; *'you 
surely know ; you have discovered them, you 
wonderful being, for otherwise you would not 
have thus torn my heart. Are they perhaps 
already here? Can it be?" Her eye passed 
quickly over the brilliant company and lingered 
on a lady of high rank who was sitting next her 
foster-father. Undine, however, turned toward 
the door, while her eyes overflowed with the 
sweetest emotion. ** Where are the poor wait- 
ing parents?" she inquired, and the old fisher- 
man and his wife advanced hesitatingly from the 
crowd of spectators. Their glance rested in- 
quiringly now on Undine, now on the beautiful 
girl who was said to be their daughter, ** It is 
she," said the delighted benefactress, in a falter- 
ing tone, and the two old people hung round 
the neck of their recovered child, weeping and 
praising God. 

\Q4 . ■ UNDINE: . : : . A : „ 

But amazed and indignant, Bertalda tore her- 
self from their embrace. Such a recognition was 
too much for this proud mind, at a moment when 
she had surely imagined that her former splen- 
dor would even be increased, and when hope 
was deluding her with a vision of almost royal 
honors, it seemed to her as if her rival had 
devised all this on purpose signally to humble 
her before Huldhrand and the whole world. 
She reviled Undine, she reviled the old people,; 
and bitter invectives, such as deceiver " and 
**bribed impostors,'' fell from her hps. Then 
the old fisherman's wife said in a low voice to 
herself: ** Ah me, she is become a wicked girl ; 
and yet 1 feel in my heart that she is nay 
child." , 

The old fisherman, however, had folded his 
hands, and was praying silently that this might 
not be his daughter. Undine, pale as death, 
turned with agitation from the parents to Ber- 
talda, and from Bertalda to the parents^ sud- 
denly cast down from that heaven of happiness 
of which she had dreamed, and overwhelmed 
with a fear and a terror such as she had neyer 


known even in imagination. ** Have you a scul^ 
Have you really a soul, Bertalda?" she cried 
again and again to her angry friend, as if forcij- 
bly to rouse her to consciousness from some sudr 
den delirium or maddening nightmare. But whe^ 
Bertalda only became more and more enraged^ 
when the repulsed parents began to weep alouc^, 
and the company, in eager dispute, were taking 
different sides, she begged in such a dignified 
and serious manner to be allowed to speak in 
this her husband's hall, that all around were in 
moment silenced. She then advanced to Ih? 
upper end of the table, where Bertalda had 
seated herself, and with a modest and yel 
proud air, while every eye was fixed upon he^ 
%he spoke as follows : — 

** My friends, you look so angry and disturbe:c|f 
and you have interrupted my happy feast by yoiju 
disputings. Ah ! I knew nothing of your foolis}) 
habits and. your heartless mode of thinking, ancj 
I shall never all my life long become accustome|( 
to them. It is not my fault that this affair has 
resulted in evil; believe me, the fault is wU^^ 
yourselves alone, little as it may appear to y(H< 



Icy be so. 1 have therefore but little ta say to 
you, but one thing I must say : I have spoken 
nothing but truth. I neither can nor will give 
you proofs beyond my own assertion, but I will 
swear to the truth of this. I received this infor- 
mation from the very person who allured Ber- 
-lalda into the water, away from her parents, and 
who afterward placed her on the green meadow 
in the duke's path." 

** She is an enchantress ! " cried Bertalda, ** a 
j^itch, who has intercourse with evil spirits. She 
acknowledges it herself." 

** I do not," said Undine, with a whole heaven 
<>f innocence and confidence beaming in her 
eyes. ** I am no witch ; only look at me ! " 

"She is false and boastful," interrupted Ber- 
lalda, ** and she cannot prove that I am the 
child of these low people. My noble parents, I 
'feeg you to take me from this company and out 
of this city, where they are only bent on insult- 
ing me." 

But the aged and honorable duke remained 
finmoved, and his wife said: **We must thor- 
oughly examine how we are to act. God forbid 


that we should move a step from this hall until 
we have done so." 

Then the old wife of the fisherman drew near, 
and making a low reverence to the duchess, she 
said : ** Noble, god-fearing lady, you have opened 
my heart. I must tell you, if this evil-disposed 
young lady is my daughter, she has a mark, like 
a violet, between her shoulders, and another like 
it on the instep of her left foot. If she would 
only go out of the hall with me ! " 

** I shall not uncover myself before the peasant 
woman ! exclaimed Bertalda, proudly turning 
her back on her. 

** But before me you will," rejoined the duchess, 
very gravely. Follow me into that room, girl, 
and the good old woman shall come with us." 
The three disappeared, and the rest of the com- 
pany remained where they were, in silent expec- 
tation. After a short time they returned ; Ber- 
talda was pale as death. *• Right is right," said 
the duchess ; ''I must therefore declare that our 
hostess has spoken perfect truth. Bertalda is 
the fisherman's daughter, and that is as much as 
it is necessary to inform you here." 


] The princely pair left with their adopted daugh^ 
ter ; and at a sign frona the duke, the fisherman 
and his wife followed them. The other guests 
yetired in silence or with secret murmurs, and 
Undine sank weeping into Huldbrand's arms. 




The lord of Ringstetten would have certainly 
preferred the events of this day to have been dif- 
ferent ; but even as they were, he could scarcely 
regret them wholly, as they had exhibited, his 
charming wife under such a good and sweet and 
kindly aspect. If I have given her a soul," he 
could not help saying to himself, I have indeed 
given her a better one than my own ; " and his 
only thought now was to speak soothingly to 
the weeping Undine, and on the following morn- 
ing to quit with her a place which, after this 
incident, must have become distasteful to hen 
It is true that she was not estimated differently 
to what" she had been. As something mysteri- 
ous had long been expected of her, the strange 
discovery of Bertalda's origin had caused no great 
surprise and. every one who had heard the, story 



and had seen Bertalda's violent behavior^ was 
disgusted with her alone. Of this, however, the 
knight and his lady knew nothing as yet ; and, 
besides, the condemnation or approval of the 
public was equally painful to Undine, and thus 
there was no better course to pursue than to 
leave the walls of the old city behind them with 
all the speed possible. 

With the earliest beams of morning a pretty 
carriage drove up to the entrance gate for Un- 
dine; the horses which Huldbrand and his 
squires were to ride stood near, pawing the 
ground with impatient eagerness. The knight 
was leading his beautiful wife from the door, 
when a fisher-girl crossed their way. We do 
not need your fish," said Huldbrand to her, 
** we are now starting on our journey." Upon 
this the fisher-girl began to weep bitterly, and 
the young couple perceived for the first time that 
it was Bertalda. They immediately returned with 
her to their apartment, and learned from her that 
the duke and duchess were so displeased at her 
violent and unfeeling conduct on the preceding 
way, that they had entirely withdrawn their pro- 


tcction from her, though not without giving her 
a rich portion. 

The fisherman, too, had been handsomely 
rewarded, and had the evening before set out 
with his wife to return to their secluded home. 

*• I would have gone with them/' she con- 
tinued, ** but the old fisherman, who is said to 
be my father" — 

** And he is so indeed, Bertalda," interrupted 
Undine. ** Look here, the stranger, whom you 
took for the master of the fountain, told me the 
whole story in detail. He wished to dissuade 
me from taking you with me to castle Ringstet- 
ten, and this led him to disclose the secret." 

** Well, then," said Bertalda, if it must be 
so, my father said, * I will not take you with me 
until you are changed. Venture to come to us 
alone through the haunted forest ; that shall be 
the proof whether you have any regard for us. 
But do not come to me as a lady ; come only as 
a fisher-girl ! ' So I will do just as he has told 
me, for I am forsaken by the whole world, and 
I will live and die in solitude as a poor fisher- 
girl, with my poor parents. I have a terrible 

-'dread though of the forest. Horrible spectres 
are said to dwell in it, and I am so fearful. But 
%ow can I help it ? I only canie here to implore 
pardon of the noble lady of Ringstetten for my 
unbecoming behavior yesterday. I feel sure, 
sweet lady, you meant to do me a kindness, 
but you knew not how you would wound me, 
and in my agony and surprise, many a rash and 
frantic expression passed my lips. Oh forgive, 
forgive! I am already so unhappy. Only think 
yourself what I was yesterday morning, yester- 
day at the beginning of your banquet, and what 
^ I am now ! " 

Her voice became stifled with a passionate 
flood of tears, and Undine, also weeping bit- 
terly, fell on her neck. It was some time before 
the deeply agitated Undine could utter a word ; 
at length she said : — 

You can go with us to Ringstetten; every- 
thing shall remain as it was arranged before; 
only do not speak to me again as * noble lady.' 
You see, we were exchanged for each other as 
children ; our faces even then sprang as it 
were from the same stem, and we will now so 


strengthen this kindred destiny that ho human 
power shall be able to separate it. Only, first 
of all, come with us to Ringstetten. We will 
' discuss there how we shall share all things as 

Bertalda looked timidly toward ' Huldbrand. 
He pitied the beautiful girl in her distress, and 
offering her his hand he begged her tenderly to 
intrust herself with him and his wife. ''We 
will send a message to your parents," he con- 
tinued, " to tell them why you are not come ; " 
and he would have added more with regard to 
^ the worthy fisherman and his wife, but he saw 
that Bertalda shrunk with pain from the mention 
of their name, and he therefore refrained from 
saying more. 

He then assisted her first into the carriage. 
Undine followed her ; and he mounted his horse 
and trotted merrily by the side of them, urging 
the driver at the same time to hasten his speed, 
so that very soon they were beyond the confines 
of the imperial city and all its sad remembrances ; 
and now the ladies began to enjoy the beautiful 
country through which their road lay. 



After a journey of some days, they arrived 
one exquisite evening, at castle Ringstetten. 
The young knight had much to hear from his 
overseers and vassals, so that Undine and Ber- 
talda were left alone. 

They both repaired to the ramparts of the 
fortress, and were delighted with the beautiful 
landscape which spread far and wide through 
fertile Swabia, 

Presently a tall man approached them, greet- 
ing them respectfully, and Bertalda fancied she 
saw a resemblance to the master of the fountain 
in the imperial city. Still more unmistakable 
grew the likeness, when Undine angrily and 
almost threateningly waved him off, and he re- 
treated with hasty steps and shaking head, as 
he had done before, and disappeared into a 
neighboring copse. Undine, however, said : 
** DonH be afraid, dear Bertalda, this time the 
hateful master of the fountain shall do you no 
harm." And then she told her the whole story 
in detail, and who she was herself, and how 
Bertalda had been taken away from the fisher- 
man and his wife, and Undine had gone to them. 


The girl was at first terrified with this relation ; 
she imagined her friend must be seized with 
sudden madness, but she became more con- 
vinced that all was true, for Undine's story was 
so connected, and fitted so well with former 
occurrences, and still more she had that inward 
feeling with which truth never fails to make 
itself known to us. It seemed strange to her 
that she was now herself living, as it were, in the 
midst of one of those fairy tales to which she 
had formerly only listened. 

She gazed upon Undine with reverence, but, 
she could not resist a sense of dread that seemed 
to come between her and her friend, and at their 
evening repast she could not but wonder how 
the knight could behave so lovingly and kindly 
toward a being who appeared to her, since the 
discovery she had just made, more of a phantom 
than a human being. 





The writer of this story, both because it 
moves his own heart, and because he wishes it 
to move that of others, begs you, dear reader^ 
to pardon him, if he now briefly passes over a 
considerable space of time, only cursorily men- 
tioning the events that marked it. He knows 
well that he might portray skilfully, step by 
step, how Huldbrand's heart began to turn from 
Undine to Bertalda ; how Bertalda more and 
more responded with ardent affection to the 
young knight, and how they both looked upon 
the poor wife as a mysterious being rather to be 
feared than pitied ; how Undine wept, and how 
her tears stung the knight's heart with remorse 
without awakening his former love, so that 
though he at times was kind and endearing to 
her, a cold shudder would soon draw him from 


her, and he would turn to his fellow-mortal, 
Bertalda. All this the writer knows might be 
fully detailed, and perhaps ought to have been 
so ; but such a task would have been too pain- 
ful, for similar things have been known to him 
by sad experience, and he shrinks from their 
shadow even in remembrance. You know prob- 
ably a like feeling, dear reader, for such is the 
lot of mortal man. Happy are you if you have 
received rather than inflicted the pain, for in 
such things it is more blessed to receive than to 
give. If it be so, such recollections will only 
bring a feeling of sorrow to your mind, and per- 
haps a tear will trickle down your cheek over 
the faded flowers that once caused you such 
delight. But let that be enough. We will not 
pierce our hearts with a thousand separate 
things, but only briefly state, as I have just said, 
how matters were. 

Poor Undine was very sad, and the other two 
were not to be called happy. Bertalda espe- 
cially thought that she could trace the effect of 
jealousy on the part of the injured wife when- 
ever her wishes were in any way thwarted by 



her. She had therefore habituated herself to 
an imperious demeanor, to which Undine yielded 
in sorrowful submission, and the now blinded 
Huldbrand usually encouraged this arrogant 
behavior in the strongest manner. But the cir- 
cumstance that most of all disturbed the in- 
mates of the castle, was a variety of w^onderful 
apparitions which met Huldbrand and Bertalda 
in the vaulted galleries of the castle, and which 
had never been heard of before as haunting the 
locality. The tall white man, in whom Huld- 
brand recognized only too plainly Uncle Kuhle- 
born, and Bertalda the spectral master of the 
fountain, often passed before them with a threat- 
ening aspect, and especially before Bertalda ; so 
much so, that she had already several times 
been made ill with terror, and had frequently 
thought of quitting the castle. But still she 
stayed there, partly because Huldbrand was so 
dear to her, and she relied on her innocence, 
no words of love having ever passed between 
them, and partly also because she knew not 
whither to direct her steps. The old fisherman, 
on receiving the message from the lord of 


Ringstetten that Bertalda was his guest, had 
written a few lines in an almost illegible hand, 
but as good as his advanced age and long dis- 
would admit of. 

''I have now become," he wrote, *'a poor 
old widower, for my dear and faithful wife is 
dead. However lonely I now sit in my cottage, 
Bertalda is better with you than with me. Only 
let her do nothing to harm my beloved Undine ! 
She will have my curse if it be so." The last 
words of this letter, Bertalda flung to the winds, 
but she carefully retained the part respecting 
her absence from her father — just as we are all 
wont to do in similar circumstances. 

One day, when Huldbrand had just ridden 
out. Undine summoned together the domestics 
of the family, and ordered them to bring a large 
stone, and carefully to cover with it the magnifi- 
cent fountain which stood in the middle of the 
castle-yard. The servants objected that it would 
oblige them to bring water from the valley be- 
low. Undine smiled sadly. I am sorry, my 
people," she replied, to increase your work. 
I would rather myself fetch up the pitchers, but 



this fountain must be closed. Believe me that 
it cannot be otherwise, and that it is only by so 
doing that we can avoid a greater evil." 

The whole household were glad to be able to 
please their gentle mistress ; they made no fur- 
ther inquiry, but seized the enormous stone. 
They vrere just raising it in their hands, and 
were already poising it over the fountain, when 
Bertalda came running up, and called out to 
them to stop, as it was from this fountain that 
the water was brought which was so good for 
her complexion, and she would never consent 
to its being closed. Undine, however, although 
gentle as usual, was more than usually lirm. 
She told Bertalda that it was her due, as mis- 
tress of the house, to arrange her household as 
she thought best, and that, in this, she was 
accountable to no one but her lord and husband. 

See, oh, pray see,'' exclaimed Bertalda, in an 
angry, yet uneasy tone, " how^ the poor beauti- 
ful water is curling and writhing at being shut 
out from the bright sunshine and from the 
cheerful sight of the human face, for whose 
mirror it was created ! " 


The water in the fountain was indeed wonder- 
fully agitated and hissing ; it seemed as if some- 
thing within were struggling to free itself, but 
Undine only the more earnestly urged the ful- 
filment of her orders. The earnestness was 
scarcely needed. The servants of the castle 
were as happy in obeying their gentle mistress 
as in opposing Bertalda's haughty defiance ; 
and in spite of all the rude scolding and threat- 
ening of the latter the stone was soon firmly 
lying over the opening of the fountain. Undine 
leaned thoughtfully over it, and wrote with her 
beautiful fingers on its surface. She must, how- 
ever, have had something very sharp and cutting 
in her hand, for when she turned away, and the 
servants drew near to examine the stone, they 
perceived various strange characters upon it, 
which none of them had seen there before. 

Bertalda received the knight, on his return 
home in the evening, with tears and complaints 
of Undine's conduct. He cast a serious look at 
his poor wife, and she looked down as if dis- 
tressed. Yet she said with great composure: 
•* My lord and husband does not reprove eveft 



a bondslave without a hearing, how much less, 
"then, his wedded wife? " 

*' Speak," said the knight with a gloomy 
'countenance, *' what induced you to act so 
strangely ?" 

** I should like to tell you when we are quite 
alone," sighed Undine. 

*'You can tell me just as well in Bertalda's 
presence," was the rejoinder. 

** Yes, if you command me," said Undine; 

but command it not. Oh pray, pray com- 
tnand it not ! " 

She looked so humble, so sweet, and obedient, 
-that the knight's heart felt a passing gleam from 
■better times. He kindly placed her arm within 
iais own, and led her to his apartment, when she 
began to speak as follows : — 

You already know, my beloved lord, some- 
thing of my evil uncle, Kiihleborn, and you have 
frequently been displeased at meeting him in 
the galleries of this castle. He has several times 
frightened Bertalda into illness. This is because 
he is devoid of soul, a mere elemental mirror of 
the outward world, without the power of reflect- 



ing the world within. He sees, too, sometimes, 
that you are dissatisfied with me ; that I, in my 
childishness, am weeping at this, and that Ber- 
talda perhaps is at the very same moment laugh- 
ing. Hence he imagines various discrepancies 
in our home life, and in many ways mixes unbid- 
den with our circle. What is the good of re- 
proving him? What is the use of sending him 
angrily away? He does not believe a word I 
say. His poor nature has no idea that the joys 
and sorrows of love have so sweet a resemblance, 
and are so closely linked that no power can sepa- 
rate them. Amid tears a smile shines forth, 
and a smile allures tears from their secret 

She looked up at Huldbrand, smiling and 
weeping; and he again experienced within his 
heart all the charm of his old love. She felt 
this, and pressing him more tenderly to her, she 
continued amid tears of joy : — 

As the disturber of our peace was not to be 
dismissed with words, I have been obliged to 
shut the door upon him. And the only door by 
which he obtains access to us is that fountain. 



He is cut off by the adjacent valleys from the 
other water-spirits in the neighborhood, and his 
kingdom onJy commences further off on the 
Danube, into which some of his good friends 
direct their course. For this reason I had the 
stone placed over the opening of the fountain, 
and I inscribed characters upon it which cripple 
all mylmcT?s power, so that he can now neither 
intrude up"on you, nor upon me, nor upon Ber- 
talda. Human beings, it is true, can raise the 
stone again with ordinary effort, in spite of the 
characters inscribed on it. The inscription 
does not hinder them. If you wish, therefore, 
follow Bertalda^s desire, but, truly ! she knows 
not what she asks. The rude Kuhleborn has 
set his mark especially upon her ; and if much 
came to pass which he has predicted to me, and 
which might, indeed, happen without your mean- 
ing any evil, ah ! dear one, even you would 
then be exposed to danger ! 

Huldbrand felt deeply the generosity of his 
sweet wife, in her eagerness to shut up her for- 
midable protector, while she had even been 
chided for it by Bertalda. He pressed her in 


his arms with the utmost affection, and said 
with emotion: **The stone shall remain, and 
all shall remain, now and ever, as you wish to 
have it, my sweet Undine." 

She caressed him with humble delight, as she 
heard the expressions of love so long withheld, 
and then at length she said : My dearest hus- 
band, you are so gentle and kind to-day, may I 
venture to ask a favor of you? See now, it is 
just the same with you as it is with summer. In 
the height of its glory, summer puts on the 
flaming and thundering crown of mighty storms, 
and assumes the air of a king over the earth. 
You, too, sometimes, let your fury rise, and 
your eyes flash and your voice is angry, and this 
becomes you well, though I, in my folly, may 
sometimes weep at it. But never, I pray you, 
behave thus toward me on the water, or even 
when we are near it. You see, my relatives 
would then acquire a right over me.. They 
would unrelentingly tear me from you in their 
rage; because they would imagine that one of 
their race was injured, and I should be com- 
pelled all my life to dwell below in the crystal 



palaces, and should never dare to ascend to you 
again ; or they would send me up to you — and 
that, oh God, would be infinitely worse. No, 
no, my beloved husband, do not let it come to 
that, if your poor Undine is dear to you." 

He promised solemnly to do as she desired, 
and they both returned from the apartment, full 
of happiness and affection. At that moment 
Bertalda appeared with some workmen, to whom 
she had already given orders, and said in a sul- 
len tone, which she had assumed of late: *' I 
suppose the secret conference is at an end, and 
now the stone may be removed. Go out, work- 
men, and attend to it." 

But the knight, angry at her impertinence, 
desired in short and very decisive words that 
the stone should be left ; he reproved Bertalda, 
too, for her violence toward his wife. Where- 
upon the workmen withdrew, smiling with secret 
satisfaction ; while Bertalda, pale with rage, 
hurried away to her room. 

The hour for the evening repast arrived, and 
Bertalda was waited for in vain. They sent 
after her, but the domestic found her apart- 


ments empty, and only brought back with him 
a sealed letter addressed to the knight. He 
opened it with alarm, and read: '* I feel with 
shame that I am only a poor fisher-girl. I will 
expiate my fault in having forgotten this for a 
moment by going to the miserable cottage of 
my parents. Farewell to you and your beautiful 

Undine was heartily distressed. She earnestly 
entreated Huldbrand to hasten after their friend 
and bring her back again. Alas ! she had no 
need to urge him. His aiTection for Bertalda 
burst forth again with vehemence. He hurried 
round the castle, inquiring if any one had seen 
which way the fugitive had gone. He could 
learn nothing of her, and he was already on his 
horse in the castle-yard, resolved at a venture 
to take the road by which he had brought Ber- 
talda hither. Just then a page appeared, who 
assured him that he had met the lady' on the 
path to the Black Valley. Like an arrow the 
knight sprang through the gateway in the direc- 
tion indicated, without hearing Undine^s voice 
of agony^ as she called to him from the win- 
dow : — 



**To the Black Valley! Oh, not there! 
Huldbrand, don^t go there ! or, for heaven's 
sake, take me with you ! " But when she per- 
ceived that all her calling was in vain, she 
ordered her white palfrey to be immediately 
saddled, and rode after the knight, without 
allowing any servant to accompany her. 




The Black Valley lies deep within the moun- 
tains. What it is now called we do not know. 
At that time the people of the country gave it 
this appellation on account of the deep obscurity 
in which the low land lay, owing to the shadows 
of the lofty trees, and especially firs, that grew 
there. Even the brook which bubbled between 
the rocks wore the same dark hue, and dashed 
along with none of that gladness with which 
streams are wont to flow that have the blue sky 
immediately above them. Now, in the growing 
twilight of evening, it looked wild and gloomy 
between the heights. The knight trotted anx- 
iously along the edge of the brook, fearful at 
one moment that by delay he might allow the 
fugitive to advance too far, and at the next that 
by too great rapidity he might overlook her in 



case she were concealing herself from him. 
Meanwhile he had already penetrated tolerably 
far into the valley, and might soon hope to over- 
take the maiden, if he were on the right track. 
The fear that this might not be the case made 
his heart beat with anxiety. Where would the 
tender Bertalda tarry through the stormy night, 
which was so fearful in the valley, should he fail 
to find her? At length he saw something white 
gleaming through the branches on the slope of 
the mountain. He thought he recognized Ber- 
talda's dress, and he turned his course in that 
direction. But his horse refused to go forward ; 
it reared impatiently ; and its master, unwilling 
to lose a moment, and seeing moreover that the 
copse was impassable on horseback, dismounted ; 
and, fastening his snorting steed to an elm- 
tree, he worked his way cautiously through the 
bushes. The branches sprinkled his forehead 
and cheeks with the cold drops of the evening 
dew ; a distant roll of thunder was heard mur- 
muring from the other side of the mountains ; 
\ everything looked so strange that he began to 
feel a dread of the white figure, which now lay 


only a short distance from him on the ground. 
Still he could plainly see that it was a female, 
either asleep or in a swoon, and that she was 
attired in long white garments, such as Bertalda 
had worn on that day. He stepped close up to 
her, made a rustling with the branches, and let 
his sword clatter, but she moved not. ** Ber- 
talda!" he exclaimed, at first in a low voice, and 
then louder and louder — still she heard not. 
At last, when he uttered the dear name with a 
more powerful effort, a hollow echo from the 
mountain-caverns of the valley indistinctly re- 
verberated *' Bertalda!" but still the sleeper 
woke not. He bent down over her ; the gloom 
of the valley and the obscurity of approaching 
night would not allow him to distinguish her 

Just as he was stooping closer over her, with 
a feeling of painful doubt, a flash of lightning 
shot across the valley, and he saw before him 
a frightfully distorted countenance, and a hol- 
low voice exclaimed: ** Give me a kiss, you 
enamoured swain ! " 

Huldbrand sprang up with a cry of horror^ 



and the hideous figure rose with him. *'Go 
home!" it murmured; wizards are on the 
watch. Go home ! or I will have you ! *' and it 
stretched out its long white arms toward him. 

*' Malicious Kiihleborn ! " cried the knight, 
recovering himself, " What do you concern me, 
you goblin? There, take your kiss ! " And he 
furiously hurled his sword at the figure. But it 
vanished like vapor, and a gush of water which 
wetted him through left the knight no doubt as 
to the foe with whom he had been engaged. 

** He wishes to frighten me back from Ber- 
talda," said he aloud to himself; he thinks to 
terrify me with his foolish tricks, and to make 
me give up the poor distressed girl to him, so 
that he can wreak his vengeance on her. But 
he shall not do that, weak spirit of the«elements 
as he is. No jiOwc^rles^_phantom jcan under- 
stand what a hurnan heart can do when its be^ 
energies are aroused." He felt the truth of his 
words, and that the very expression of them had 
inspired his heart with fresh courage. It seemed 
too as if fortune were on his side, for he had 
not reached his fastened horse, when he dis- 


tinctly heard Bertalda's plaintive voice not far 
distant, and could catch her weeping accents 
through the ever-increasing tumult of the thun- 
der and tempest. He hurried swiftly in the 
direction of the sound, and found the trembling 
girl just attempting to climb the steep, in order 
to escape in any way from the dreadful gloom of 
the valley. He stepped, however, lovingly in 
her path, and bold and proud as her resolve 
had before been, she now felt only too keenly 
the delight, that the friend whom she so pas- 
sionately loved should rescue her from this 
frightful solitude, and that the joyous life in the 
castle should be again open to her. She fol- 
lowed almost unresisting, but so exhausted with 
fatigue that the knight was glad to have brought 
her to his horse, which he now hastily unfas- 
tened, in order to lift the fair fugitive upon it ; 
and then, cautiously holding the reins, he hoped 
to proceed tlirough the uncertain shades of the 

But the horse had become quite unmanageable 
from the wild apparition of Kuhleborn. Even 
the knight would have had difficulty in mounting 



the rearing and snorting animal, but to place the 
trembling Bertalda on its back was perfectly im- 
possible. They determined, therefore, to return 
home on foot. Drawing the horse after him by 
the bridle, the knight supported the tottering 
girl with his other hand. Bertalda exerted all 
her strength to pass quickly through the fearful 
valley, but weariness weighed her down like lead, 
and every limb trembled, partly from the terror 
she had endured when Kuhleborn had pursued 
her, and partly from her continued alarm at the 
howling of the storm and the pealing of the thun- 
der through the wooded mountain. 

At last she slid from the supporting arm of her 
protector, and sinking down on the moss, she 
exclaimed : Let me lie here, my noble lord ; I 
suffer the punishment due to my folly, and I must 
now perish here through weariness and dread." 

*'No, sweet friend, I will never leave you!'* 
cried Huldbrand, vainly endeavoring to restrain 
his furious steed ; for, worse than before, it now 
began to foam and rear with excitement, until at 
last the knight was glad to keep the animal at a 
sufficient distance from the exhausted maiden^ 


lest her fears should be increased. But scarcely 
had he withdrawn a few paces with the wild 
steed, than she began to call after him in the 
most pitiful manner, believing that he was really 
going to leave her in this horrible wilderness. 
He was utterly at a loss what course to take- 
Gladly would he have given the excited beast its 
liberty and have allowed it to rush away into the 
night and spend its fury, had he not feared that 
in this narrow defile it might come thundering 
with its iron-shod hoofs over the very spot where 
Bertalda lay. 

In the midst of this extreme perplexity and dis- 
tress, he heard with delight the sound of a vehi- 
cle driving slowly down the stony road behind 
them. He called out for help; and a man^s 
voice replied, bidding him have patience, but 
promising assistance ; and soon after, two gray 
horses appeared through the bushes, and beside 
them the driver in the white smock of a carter ; 
a great white linen cloth was next visible, cover- 
ing the goods apparently contained in the wagon. 
At a loud shout from their master, the obedient 
horses halted. The driver then came toward 



the knight, and helped him in restraining his 
foaming animal. 

** I see well," said he, **what ails the beast. 
When I first travelled this way, my horses were 
no better. The fact is, there is an evil water- 
spirit haunting the place, and he takes delight 
in this sort of mischief. But I have learned a 
charm ; if you will let me whisper it in your 
horse's ear, he will stand at once just as quiet as 
my gray beasts are doing there." 

**'Try your luck then, only help us quickly!" 
exclaimed the impatient knight. The wagoner 
then drew down the head of the rearing charger 
close to his own, and whispered something in 
his ear. In a moment the animal stood still 
and quiet, and his quick panting and reeking 
condition was all that remained of his previous 
unmanageableness. Huldbrand had no time to 
inquire how all this had been effected. He 
agreed with the carter that he should take Ber- 
talda on his wagon, where, as the man assured 
him, there were a quantity of soft cotton-bales, 
upon which she could be conveyed to castle 
Ringstetten, and the knight was to accompany 


them on horseback. But the horse appeared too 
much exhausted by its past fury to be able to 
carry its master so far, so the carter persuaded 
Huldbrand to get into the wagon with Bertalda. 
The horse could be fastened on behind. "We 
are going down hill," said he, *'and that will 
make it light for my gray beasts.''' 

The knight accepted the offer and entered the 
wagon with Bertalda ; the horse followed patiently 
behind, and the wagoner, steady and attentive, 
walked by the side. 

In the stillness of the night, as its darkness 
deepened and the subsiding tempest sounded 
more and more remote, encouraged by the 
sense of security and their fortunate escape, a 
confidential conversation arose between Huld* 
brand and Bertalda. With flattering words he 
reproached her for her daring flight; she ex- 
cused herself with humility and emotion, and 
from every word she said a gleam shone forth 
which disclosed distinctly to the lover that the be- 
loved was his. The knight felt the sense of her 
words far more than he regarded their meaning, 
and it was the sense alone to which he replied. 



Presently the wagoner suddenly shouted with a 
toud voice, — 

Up, my grays, up with your feet, keep 
together ! remember who you are ! " 

The knight leaned out of the wagon and saw 
ihat the horses were stepping into the midst of a 
foaming stream or were already almost swimming, 
while the wheels of the wagon were rushing round 
^nd gleaming like mill-wheels, and the wagoner 
had got up in front, in consequence of the increas- 
ing waters. 

*'What sort of a road is this? It goes into 
the middle of the stream," cried Huldbrand to 
his guide. 

Not at all, sir," returned the other, laughing, 

it is just the reverse, the stream goes into the 
very middle of our road. Look round and see 
how everything is covered by the watei." 

The whale valley indeed was suddenly filled 
with the surging flood, that visibly increased. 

It is Kuhleborn, the evil water-spirit, who 
wishes to drown us ! " exclaimed the knight. 
^* Have you no charm against him, my friend ?" 

*' I know indeed of one," returned the wag- 


oner, but I cannot and may not use it until you 
know who I am." 

Is this a time for riddles ? " cried the knight. 
** The flood is ever rising higher, and what does 
it matter to me to know who you are ? " 

It does matter to you, though," said the 
wagoner, *'for I am Klihleborn." 

So saying, he thrust his distorted face into 
the wagon with a grin, but the wagon was a 
wagon no longer, the horses were not horses — 
all was transformed to foam and vanished in the 
hissing waves, and even the wagoner himself, 
rising as a gigantic billow, drew down the vainly 
struggling horse beneath the waters, and then 
swelling higher and higher, swept over the heads 
of the floating pair, like some liquid tower, threat- 
ening to bury them irrecoverably. 

Just then the soft voice of Undine sounded 
through the uproar, the moon emerged from the 
clouds, and by its light Undine was seen on the 
heights above the valley. She rebuked, she 
threatened the floods below ; the menacing, 
tower-like wave vanished, muttering and mur- 
muring, the waters flowed gently away in the 



moonlight, and like a white dove, Undine flew 
down from the height, seized the knight and 
Bertalda, and bore them with her to a fresh, 
green, turfy spot on the hill, where with choice 
refreshing restoratives, she dispelled their ter- 
rors and weariness ; then she assisted Bertalda 
to mount the white palfrey, on which she had 
herself ridden here, and thus all three returned 
back to castle Ringstetten. 




After this last adventure, they lived quietly 
and happily at the castle. The knight more and 
more perceived the heavenly goodness of his 
wife, which had been so nobly exhibited by her 
pursuit, and by her rescue of them in the Black 
Valley, where Kuhleborn's power again com- 
menced; Undine herself felt that peace and 
security, which is never lacking to a mind so 
long as it is distinctly conscious of being on the 
right path, and besides, in the newly-awakened 
love and esteem of her husband, many a gleam 
of hope and joy shone upon her. Bertalda, on 
the other hand, showed herself grateful, humble 
and timid, without regarding her conduct as 
anything meritorious. Whenever Huldbrand or 
Undine were about to give her any explanation 
regarding the covering of the fountain or the 
adventure in the Black Valley, she would ear- 

J 42 


nestly entreat them to spar^ her the recital, as she 
felt too much shame at the recollection of the 
fountain, and too much fear at the remem- 
brance of the Black Valley. She learned 
therefore nothing further of either; and foi 
v/hat end was such knowledge necessary? 
Peace and joy had visibly taken up their abode 
at castle Ringstetten. They felt secure on this 
point, and imagined that life could now produce 
nothing but pleasant flowers and fruits. 

In this happy condition of things, winter had 
come and passed away, and spring, with its fresh 
green shoots and its blue sky, was gladdening 
the joyous inmates of the castle. Spring wa& 
in_ harmony with them, and they with spring. 
What wonder then, that its storks and swallows 
inspired them also with a desire to travel ? One 
day when they were taking a pleasant walk to 
one of the sources of the Danube, Huldbrand 
spoke of the magnificence of the noble river, 
and how it widened as it flowed through coun- 
tries fertilized by its waters, how the charming 
city of Vienna shone forth on its banks, and 
how with every step of its course it increased in 
power and loveliness. 


** It must be glorious to go down the river as 
far as Vienna ! " exclaimed Bertalda, but imme- 
diately relapsing into her present modesty and 
humility, she paused and blushed deeply. 

This touched Undine deeply, and with the 
liveliest desire to give pleasure to her friend, she 
said: **What hinders us from starting on the 
little voyage ? " 

Bertalda exhibited the greatest delight, and 
both she and Undine began at once to picture 
the tour of the Danube in the brightest colors. 
Huldbrand also gladly agreed to the prospect ; 
only he once whispered anxiously in Undine's 
ear, — 

** But Kuhleborn becomes .possessed of his 
power again out there ! " 

**Let him come," she replied with a smile; 

I shall be there, and he ventures upon none of 
his mischief befoie me." The last impediment 
was thus removed ; they prepared for the jour- 
ney, and soon after set out upon it with fresh 
spirits and the brightest hopes. 

But wonder not, oh man, if events always turn 
out different to what we have intended. That 



malicious power, lurking for our destruction, 
gladly lulls its chosen victim to sleep with 
sweet songs and golden delusions ; while on 
the other hand the rescuing messenger from 
Heaven often knocks sharply and alarmingly at 
our door. 

During the first few days of their voyage down 
the Danube they were extremely happy. Every- 
thing grew more and more beautiful as they 
sailed further and further down the proudly 
flowing stream. But in a region otherwise so 
pleasant, and in the enjoyment of which they 
had promised themselves the purest delight, the 
ungovernable Klihleborn began, undisguisedly, 
to exhibit his power of interference. This was 
indeed manifested in mere teasing tricks, for 
Undine often rebuked the agitated waves, or 
the contrary winds, and then the violence of 
the enemy would be immediately humbled ; but 
again the attacks would be renewed, and again 
Undine's reproofs would become necessary, so 
that the pleasure of the little party was completely 
destroyed. The boatmen too were continually 
whispering to each other in dismay, and looking 


with distrust at the three strangers, whose ser- 
vants even began more and more to forebode 
something uncomfortable, and to watch their 
superiors with suspicious glances. Huldbrand 
often said to himself: *'This comes from like 
not being linked with like, from a man uniting 
himself with a mermaid ! " Excusing hiriiself as 
we all love to do, he would often think indeed 
as he said this : I did not really know that she 
was a sea-maiden, mine is the misfortune, that 
every step I take is disturbed and haunted by 
the wild caprices of her raqe, but mine is not 
the fault." By thoughts such as these, he felt 
himself in some measure strengthened, but on 
the other hand, he felt increasing ill-humor, and 
almost animosity toward Undine. He would 
look at her with an expression of anger, the 
meaning of which the poor wife understood 
well. Wearied with this exhibition of dis- 
pleasure, and exhausted by the constant effort 
to frustrate Kuhleborn's artifices, she sank one 
evening into a deep slumber, rocked soothingly 
by the softly gliding bark. 

Scarcely, however, had she closed her eyes, 



than every one in the vessel imagined he saw, 
in whatever direction he turned, a most horrible 
human head ; it rose out of the waves, not like 
that of a person swimming, but perfectly per- 
pendicular as if invisibly supported upright on 
the watery surface, and floating along in the 
same course with the bark. Each wanted to 
point out to the other the cause of his alarm, 
but each found the same expression of horror 
depicted on the face of his neighbor, only that 
his hands and eyes were directed to a different 
point where the monster, half-laughing and half- 
threatening, rose before him. When, however, 
they all wished to make each other understand 
what each saw, and all were crying out : Look 
there! No, there!" the horrible heads all at 
one and the same time appeared to their view, 
and the whole river around the vessel swarmed 
with the most hideous apparitions. The uni- 
versal cry raised at the sight awoke Undine. 
As she opened her eyes, the wild crowd of dis- 
torted visages disappeared. But Huldbrand was 
indignant at such unsightly jugglery. He would 
have burst forth in uncontrolled imprecations 


had not Undine said to him with a humble man- 
ner and a softly imploring tone : For God's 
sake, my husband, we are on the water, do not 
be angry with me now." 

The knight was silent, and sat down ab- 
sorbed in revery. Undine whispered in his 
ear : Would it not be better, my love, if we 
gave up this foolish journey, and returned to 
castle Ringstetten in peace? " 

But Huldbrand murmured moodily: So 1 
must be a prisoner in my own castle, and only 
be able to breathe so long as the fountain is 
closed ! I would your mad kindred " — Undine 
lovingly pressed her fair hand upon his lips. 
He paused, pondermg in silence over much that 
Undine had before said to him. 

Bertalda had meanwhile given herself up to a 
variety of strange thoughts. She knew a good 
deal of Undine's origin, and yet not the whole^ 
and the fearful Kuhleborn especially had re- 
mained to her a terrible but wiiolly unrev^ealed 
mystery. She had indeed never even heard his 
name. Musing on these strange things, she 
unclasped, scarcely conscious cf the act. a gold 



necklace, which Huldbrin'd had lately purchased 
for her of a travelling trader ; half dreamingly 
she drew it along the surface of the water, enjoy- 
ing the light glimmer it cast upon the evening- • 
tinted stream. Suddenly a huge hand was 
stretched out of the Danube, it seized the neck- 
lace and vanished with it beneath the waters. 
Bertalda screamed aloud, and a scornful laugh 
resounded from the depths of the stream. The 
knight could now restrain his anger no longer. 
Starting up, he inveighed against the river ; he 
cursed all who ventured to interfere with his 
family and his life, and challenged them, be they 
spirits or sirens, to show themselves before his 
avenging sword. 

Bertalda wept meanwhile for her lost orna- 
ment, which was so precious to her, and her 
tears added fuel to the flame of the knight's 
anger, while Undine held her hand over the side 
of the vessel, dipping it into the water, softly 
murmuring to herself, and only now and then 
interrupting her strange mysterious whisper, as 
she entreated her husband : ** My dearly loved 
one,'' do' not scold me here ; reprove others if 


you will, but not me here. You know why!" 
And indeed, he restrained the words of anger 
that were trembling on his tongue. Presently 
in her wet hand which she had been holding 
under the waves, she brought up a beautiful 
coral necklace of so much brilliancy that the 

-eyes of all were dazzled by it. 

*'Take this," said she, holding it out kindly 
to Bertalda ; *' I have ordered this to be brought 
for you as a compensation, and don't be grieved 
any more, my poor child.'' 

But the knight sprang between them. He 
tore the beautiful ornament from Undine's hand, 

' hurled it again into the river, exclaiming in pas- 
sionate rage : ** Have you then still a connection 

-with them? In the name of all the witches, 
remain among them with your presents, and 
leave us mortals in peace, you sorceress ! " 

Poor Undine gazed at him with fixed but tear- 
ful eyes, her hand still stretched out, as when 
she had offered her beautiful present so lovingly 
to Bertalda. She then began to weep more 
and more violently, like a dear innocent child 
bitterly afflictedo At last, wearied out she said : 


**Alas, sweet friend, alas! farewell! They 
shall do you no harm ; only remain true, so 
that I may be able to keep them from you. I 
must, alas ! go away ; I must go hence at this 
early stage of life. Oh woe, woe! what have 
you done ! Oh woe, woe ! " 

She vanished over the side of the vessel. 
Whether she plunged into the stream, or flowed 
away with it, they knew not ; her disappearance 
was like both and neither. Soon, however, she 
was completely lost sight of in the Danube; 
only a few little waves kept whispering, as if 
sobbing, round the boat, and they almost 
seemed to be saying: ** Oh woe, woe! oh re- 
main true ! oh woe ! " 

Huldbrand lay on the deck of the vessel, 
bathed in hot tears, and a deep swoon soon cast 
its veil of forgetfulness over the unhappy man. 




Shall we say it is well or ill, that our sorrow 
is of such short duration? I mean that deep 
sorrow which affects the very well-spring of our 
life, which becomes so one with the lost objects 
of our love that they are no longer lost, and 
which enshrines their image as a sacred treasure, 
until that final goal is reached which they have 
reached before us ! It is true that many men 
really maintain these sacred memories, but their 
feeling is no longer that of the first deep grief. 
Other and new images have thronged between ; 
we learn at length the transitoriness of all earthly 
things, even to our grief, and, therefore, I must 
say ** Alas, that our sorrow should be of such 
short duration ! " 

The lord of Ringstetten experienced this : 
whether for his good, we shall hear in the sequel 
to this history. At first he could do nothing 



but weep, and that as bitterly as the poor gentle 
Undine had wept when he had torn from her 
hand that brilliant ornament with which she had 
wished to set everything to rights. And then 
he would stretch out his hand, as she had done, 
and would weep again, like her. He cherished 
the secret hope that he might at length dissolve 
in tears ; and has not a similar hope passed 
before the mind of many a one of us, with pain- 
ful pleasure, in moments of great affliction? 
Bertalda wept also, and they lived a long while 
quietly together at Castle Ringstetten, cherish- 
ing Undine's memory, and almost wholly forget- 
ful of their former attachment to each other. 
And, therefore, the good Undine often visited 
Huldbrand in his dreams ; caressing him ten- 
derly and kindly, and then going away, weeping 
silently, so that when he awoke he often scarcely 
knew why his cheeks were so wet : whether they 
had been bathed with her tears, or merely with 
his own? 

These dream-visions became, however, less 
frequent as time passed on, and the grief of 
the knight was less acute ; still he would prob- 


ably have cherished no other wish than thus to 
think cahnly of Undine and to talk cf her, had 
not the old fisherman appeared one day unex- 
pectedly at the castle, and sternly insisted on 
Bertalda's returning with him as his child. The 
news of Undine's disappearance had reached 
him, and he had determined on no longer allow- 
ing Bertalda to reside at the castle with the 
widowed knight. 

For," said he, *' whether my daughter love 
me or no, I do not care to know, but her honor 
is at stake, and where that is concerned, nothing 
else is to be thought of." 

This idea of the old fisherman^s, and the soli- 
tude which threatened to overwhelm the knight 
in all the halls and galleries of the desolate 
castle, after Bertalda's departure, brought out 
the feelings that had slumbered till now and 
which had been wholly forgotten in his sorrow 
for Undine ; namely, Huldbrand's affection for 
the beautiful Bertalda. The fisherman had 
many objections to raise against the proposed 
marriage. Undine had been very dear to the 
old fisherman, and he felt that no one really 



knew for certain whether the dear lost one were 
actually dead. And if her body were truly lying 
cold and stiff at the bottom of the Danube, or 
had floated away wdth the current into the ocean, 
even then Bertalda was in some measure to 
blame for her death, and it was unfitting for her 
to step into the place of the poor supplanted 
one. Yet the fisherman had a strong regard for 
the knight also ; and the entreaties of his 
daughter, who had become much more gentle 
and submissive, and her tears for Undine, 
turned the scale, and he must at length have 
given his consent, for he remained at the castle 
without objection, and a messenger was de- 
spatched to Father Heilmann, who had united 
Undine and Huldbrand in happy days gone by, 
to bring him to the castle for the second nuptials 
of the knight. 

The holy man, however, had scarcely read 
the letter from the knight of Ringstetten, than 
he set out on his journey to the castle, with far 
greater expedition than even the messenger had 
used in going to him. Whenever his breath 
failed in his rapid progress, or his aged limbs 


ached with weariness, he would say to himself : 
** Perhaps the evil may yet be prevented; fail 
not, my tottering frame, till you have reached 
the goal ! " And with renewed power he would 
then press forward, and go on and on without 
rest or repose, until late one evening he entered 
the shady court -yard of castle Ringstetten. 

The betrothed pair were sitting side by side 
under the trees, and the old fisherman was near 
them, absorbed in thought. The moment they 
recognized Father Heilmann, they sprang up, 
and pressed round him with warm welcome. 
But he, without making much reply, begged 
Huldbrand to go with him into the castle ; and 
when the latter looked astonished, and hesitated 
to obey the grave summons, the reverend father 
said to him : — 

** Why should I make any delay in wishing to 
speak to you in private, Herr von Ringstetten? 
What I have to say concerns Bertalda and the 
fisherman as much as yourself, and what a man 
has to hear, he may prefer to hear as soon aj 
possible. Are you then so perfectly certain, 
Knight Huldbrand, that your first wife is realljf 



dead ? It scarcely seems so to me. I will not 
indeed say anything of the mysterious condi- 
tion in which she may be existing, and I know, 
too, nothing of it with certainty. But she was a 
pious and faithful wife, that is beyond all doubt ; 
and for a fortnight past she has stood at my bed- 
side at night in my dreams, wringing her tender 
hands in anguish and sighing out : ' Oh, prevent 
him, good father! I am still living! oh, save his 
life ! save his soul ! ' I did not understand what 
this nightly vision signified ; when presently 
your messenger came, and I hurried thither, not 
to unite, but to separate, what ought not to be 
joined together. Leave her, Huldbrand ! Leave 
him, Bertalda ! He yet belongs to another ; and 
do you not see grief for his lost wife still written 
on his pale cheek? No bridegroom looks thus, 
and a voice tells me that if you do not leave him, 
you will never be happy." 

The three listeners felt in their innermost 
heart that Father Heilmann spoke the truth, but 
they would not believe it. Even the old fish- 
erman was now so infatuated that he thought 
it could not be otherwise than they had settled it 


In their discussions during the last few days. 
They therefore all opposed the warnings of the 
priest with a wild and gloomy rashness, until at 
length the holy father quitted the castle with a 
sad heart, refusing to accept even for a single 
night the shelter offered, or to enjoy the refresh- 
ments brought him. Huldbrand, however, per- 
suaded himself that the priest was full of whims 
and fancies, and with dawn of day he sent for a 
father from the nearest monastery, who, without 
hesitation, promised to perform the ceremony in 
a few days. 




THE knight's dream. 

It was between night and dawn of day that 
the knight was lying on his couch, half-waking, 
half-sleeping. Whenever he was on the point 
of falling asleep a terror seemed to come upon 
him and scare his rest away, for his slumbers 
were haunted with spectres. If he tried, how- 
ever, to rouse himself in good earnest he felt 
fanned as by the wings of a swan, and he heard 
the soft murmuring of waters, until soothed by 
the agreeable delusion, he sunk back again into 
a half-conscious state. At length he must have 
fallen sound asleep, for it seemed to him as if he 
were lifted up upon the fluttering wings of the 
swans and borne by them far over land and sea, 
while they sang to him their sweetest music. 
** The music of the swan! the music of the 
swan!" he kept saying to himself; *'does it 
not always portend death ? " But it had yet 


another meaning. All at once he felt as if he 
were hovering over the Mediterranean Sea. A 
swan was singing musically in his ear that this 
was the Mediterranean Sea. And while he was 
looking down upon the waters below they became 
clear as crystal, so that he could see through them 
to the bottom. He was delighted at this, for he 
could see Undine sitting beneath the crystal arch. 
It is true she was weeping bitterly, and looking 
much sadder than in the happy days when they 
had Hved together at the castle of Ringstetten, 
especially at their commencement, and after- 
ward also, shortly before they had begun their 
unhappy Danube excursion. The knight could 
not help thinking upon all this very fully and 
deeply, but it did not seem as if Undine per- 
ceived him. 

Meanwhile KUhleborn had approached her, 
and was on the point of reproving her for her 
weeping. But she drew herself up, and looked 
at him with such a noble and commanding air 
that he almost shrunk back with fear. '* Al- 
though I live here beneath the waters," said she, 
**I have yet brought down my soul with me; 



and therefore I may well weep, although you can> 
not divine what such tears are. They too are 
blessed, for everything is blessed to him in 
whom a true soul dwells." 

He shook his head incredulously, and said, 
after some reflection : *' And yet, niece, you are 
subject to the laws of our element, and if he 
marries again and is unfaithful to you, you are 
in duty bound to take away his life." 

** He is a widower to this very hour," replied 
Undine, and his sad heart still holds me dear." 

He is, however, at the same time betrothed," 
laughed Kiihleborn, with scorn; *'and let only 
a few days pass, and the priest will have given 
the nuptial blessing, and then you will have 
to go upon earth to accomplish the death of 
him who has taken another to wife." 

** That I cannot do," laughed Undine in 
return ; I have sealed up the fountain securely 
against myself and my race." 

But suppose he should leave his castle," 
said Kiihleborn, *' or should have the fountain 
opened again ! for he thinks little enough of 
these things." 


■ It is just for that reason," said Undine, still 
smiling amid her tears, *'it is just for that rea- 
son, that he is now hovering in spirit over the 
Mediterranean Sea, and is dreaming of tliis con- 
versation of ours as a warning. I have inten- 
tionally arranged it so." 

Kuhleborn, furious with rage, looked up at 
the knight, threatened, stamped with his feet, 
and then swift as an arrow shot under the 
waves. It seemed as if he were swelling in his 
fury to the size of a whale. Again the swans 
began to sing, to flap their wings, and to fly. 
It seemed to the knight as if he were soaring 
away over mountains and streams, and that he 
at length reached the castle Ringstetten, and 
awoke on his couch. 

He did, in reality, awake upon his couch, and 
his squire coming in at that moment informed 
him that Father Heilmann was still lingering in 
the neighborhood ; that he had met him the 
night before in the forest, in a hut which he 
had formed for himself of the branches of trees, 
and covered with moss and brushwood. To 
the question what he was doing here, since h^ 

1 62 


would not give the nuptial blessing, he had 
answered : There are other blessings besides 
those at the nuptial altar, and though I have not 
gone to the wedding, it may be that I shall be 
at another solemn ceremony. We must be 
ready for all things. Besides, marrying and 
mourning are not so unlike, and every one not 
wilfully blinded must see that well." 

Th knight placed various strange construc- 
tions upon these words, and upon his dream, 
but it is very difficult to break off a thing which 
a man has once regarded as certain, and so 
everything remained as it had been arranged. 




If I were to tell you how the marriage-feast 
passed at castle Ringstetten, it would seem to 
you as if you saw a heap of bright and pleasant 
things, but a gloomy veil of mourning spread 
over them all, the dark hue of which would make 
the splendor of the whole look less like happi- 
ness than a mockery of the emptiness of all 
earthly joys. It was not that any spectral appa- 
ritions disturbed the festive company, for we 
know that the castle had been secured from 
the mischief of the threatening water-spirits. 
But the knight and the fisherman and all the 
guests felt as if the chief personage were still 
lacking at the feast, and that this chief person- 
age could be none other than the loved and 
gentle Undine. Whenever a door opened, the 
eyes of all were involuntarily turned in that 


direction, and if it was nothing but the butler 
with new dishes, or the cup-bearer with a flask 
of still richer wine, they would look down again 
sadly, and the flashes of wit and merriment 
which had passed to and fro, would be extin- 
guished by sad remembrances. The bride was 
the most thoughtless of all, and therefore the 
most happy ; but even to her it sometimes 
seemed strange that she should be sitting at the 
head of the table, wearing a green wreath and 
gold-embroidered attire, while Undine was lying 
at the bottom of the Danube, a cold and stiff 
corpse, or floating away with the current into 
the mighty ocean. For, ever since her father 
had spoken of something of the sort, his words 
were ever ringing in her ear, and this day espe- 
cially they were not inclined to give place to 
other thoughts. 

The company dispersed early in the evening, 
not broken up by the bridegroom himself, but 
sadly and gloomily by the joyless mood of the 
guests and their forebodings of evil. Bertalda 
retired with her maidens, and the knight with 
his attendants; but at this mournful festival 


there was no gay, laughing train of bridesmaids 
and bridesmen. 

Bertalda wished to arouse more cheerful 
thoughts ; she ordered a splendid ornament of 
jewels which Huldbrand had given her, together 
with rich apparel and veils, to be spread out 
before her, in order that from these latter she 
might select the brightest and most beautiful 
for her morning attire. Her attendants were 
delighted at the opportunity of expressing their 
good wishes to their young mistress, not fail- 
ing at the same time to extol the beauty of 
the bride in the most lively terms. They were 
more and more absorbed in these considera- 
tions, till Bertalda at length, looking in a mir- 
ror, said with a sigh: Ah, but don't you see 
plainly how freckled I am growing here at the 
side of my neck ? " 

They looked at her throat, and found the 
freckles as their fair mistress had said, but they 
called them beauty-spots, and mere tiny blem- 
ishes only, tending to enhance the whiteness of 
her delicate skin. Bertalda shook her head and 
asserted that a spot was always a defect. 


**And I could remove them," she sighed at 
last, only the fountain is closed from which I 
used to have that precious and purifying water. 
Oh ! if I had but a flask of it to-day ! " 

** Is that all?" said an alert waiting-maid, 
laughing, as she slipped from the apartment. 

She will not be mad," exclaimed Bertalda, 
in a pleased and surprised tone, ** she will not 
be so mad as to have the stone removed from 
the fountain this very evening ! " At the same 
moment they heard the men crossing the court- 
yard, and could see from the window how 
the officious waiting-woman was leading them 
straight up to the fountain, and that they were 
carrying levers and other instruments on their 
shoulders. It is certainly my will," said Ber- 
talda, smiling, ** if only it does not take too 
long." And, happy in the sense that: a look 
from her now was able to effect what had for- 
merly been so painfully refused her, she watched 
the progress of the work in the moonlit castle- 

The men raised the enormous stone with an 
effort ; now and then indeed one of their num- 


ber would sigh, as he remembered that they 
were destroying the work of their former beloved 
mistress. But the labor was far lighter than 
they had imagined. It seemed as if a power 
within the spring itself were aiding them in 
raising the stone. 

** It is just," said the workmen to each other 
in astonishment, **as if the water within had 
become a springing fountain." And the stone 
rose higher and higher, and almost without the 
assistance of the workmen, it rolled slowly down 
upon the pavement with a hollow sound. But 
from the opening of the fountain there rose 
solemnly a white column of water ; at first they 
imagined it had really become a springing foun- 
tain, till they perceived that the rising form was 
a pale female figure veiled in white. She was 
weeping bitterly, raising her hands wailingly 
above her head and wringing them, as she 
walked with a slow and serious step to the castle- 
building. The servants fled from the spring; 
the bride, pale and stiff with horror, stood at 
&he window with her attendants. When the 
figure had now come close beneath her room. 



it looked moaningly up to her, and Bertalda 
thought she could recognize beneath the veil 
the pale features of Undine. But the sorrowing 
form passed on, sad, reluctant, and faltering, as 
if passing to execution. 

Bertalda screamed out that the knight was to 
be called, but none of her maids ventured from 
the spot ; and even the bride herself became 
mute, as if trembling at her own voice. 

While they were still standing fearfully at the 
window, motionless as statues, the strange wan^ 
derer had reached the castle, had passed up the 
well-known stairs, and through the well-known 
halls, ever in silent tears. Alas ! how differentl}! 
had she once wandered through them ! 

The knight, partly undressed, had already 
dismissed his attendants, and in a mood of deep 
dejection he was standing before a large mirror ; 
a taper was burning dimly beside him. There 
was a gentle tap at his door. Undine used to 
tap thus when she wanted playfully to tease him. 
**It is all fancy," said he to himself; ** I must 
seek my nuptial bed." 

** So you must, but it must be a cold one!'' 


he heard a tearful voice say from without, and 
then he saw in the mirror his door opening 
slowly — slowly — and the white figure entered, 
carefully closing it behind her. **They have 
opened the spring," said she softly, *' and now 
I am here, and you must die." 

He felt in his paralyzed heart that it could not 
be otherwise, but covering his eyes with his 
hands he said: Do not make me mad with 
terror in my hour of death. If you wear a hid- 
eous face behind that veil, do not raise it, but 
take my life, and let me see you not." 

**Alas!" replied the figure, **will you then 
not look upon me once more ? I am as fair as 
when you wooed me on the promontory." 

** Oh, if it were so ! " sighed Huldbrand, and 
if I might die in your fond embrace ! " 

Most gladly, my loved one," said she; and 
throwing her veil back, her lovely face smiled 
forth divinely beautiful. Trembling with love 
and with the approach of death, she kissed him 
with a holy kiss ; but not relaxing her hold she 
pressed him fervently to her, and as if she would 
weep away her soul. Tears rushed into the 


knight's eyes, and seemed to surge through his 
heaving breast, till at length his breathing 
ceased, and he fell softly back from the beauti- 
ful arms of Undine, upon the pillows of his 
couch — a corpse. 

** I have wept him to death," said she to some 
servants who met her in the ante-chamber; 
and, passing through the affrighted group, she 
went slowly out toward the fountain. 




Father Heilmann had returned to the 
castle as soon as the death of the lord of Ring- 
stetten had been made known in the neighbor- 
hood, and he appeared at the very same moment 
that the monk who had married the unfortunate 
couple was fleeing from the gates overwhelmed 
with fear and terror. 

** It is well," replied Heilmann, when he was 
informed of this; **now my duties begin, and 
I need no associate." 

Upon this he began to console the bride, now 
a widow, small result as it produced upon her 
worldly thoughtless mind. The old fisherman, 
\ on the other hand, although heartily grieved, 
was far more resigned to the fate which had 
befallen his daughter and son-in-law, and while 
Bertalda could not refrain from abusing Undine 



as a murderess and sorceress, the old man 
calmly said: **It could not be otherwise after 
all ; I see nothing in it but the judgment of God, 
and no one^s heart has been more deeply grieved 
by Huldbrand's death than that of her by whom 
it was inflicted — the poor forsaken Undine ! " 

At, the same time he assisted in arranging the 
funeral solemnities as befitted the rank of the 

The knight was to be interred in the village 
churchyard which was filled with the graves of 
his ancestors. And this church had been en- 
dowed with rich privileges and gifts both by 
these ancestors and by himself. His shield and 
helmet lay already on the coffin, to be lowered 
with it into the grave, for Sir Huldbrand, of 
Ringstetten, had died the last of his race ; the 
mourners began their sorrowful march, singing 
requiems under the bright, calm canopy of 
heaven ; Father Heilmann walked in advance, 
bearing a high crucifix, and the inconsolable 
Bertalda followed, supported by her aged father. 
Suddenly, in the midst^jthe black-robed attend- 
ants in the widow's train, a snow-white figure was 


seen, closely veiled, and wringing her hands with 
fervent sorrow. Those near whom she moved 
felt a secret dread, and retreated either back- 
ward or to the side, increasing by their move- 
ments the alarm of the others near to whom the 
white stranger was now advancing, and thus a 
confusion in the funeral-train was well-nigh be- 
ginning. Some of the military escort were so 
daring as to address the figure, and to attempt 
to remove it from the procession ; but she 
seemed to vanish from under their hands, and 
yet was immediately seen advancing again amid 
the dismal cortege with slow and solemn step. 
At length, in consequence of the continued 
shrinking of the attendants to the right and to 
the left, she came close behind Bertalda. The 
figure now moved so slowly that the widow did 
not perceive it, and it walked meekly and humbly 
behind her undisturbed. 

This lasted till they came to the churchyard, 
where the procession formed a circle round the 
open grave. Then Bertalda saw her unbidden 
companion, and starting up half in anger and 
half in terror, she commanded her to leave the 



knight's last resting-place. The veiled figure, 
however, gently shook her head in refusal, and 
raised her hands as if in humble supplication to 
Bertalda, deeply agitating her by the action, and 
recalling to her with tears how Undine had so 
kindly wished to give her that coral necklace on 
the Danube. Father Heilmann motioned with 
his hand and commanded silence, as they were 
to pray in mute devotion over the body, which 
they were now covering with the earth. Ber- 
talda knelt silently, and all knelt, even the 
grave-diggers among the rest, when they had 
finished their task. But when they rose again, 
the white stranger had vanished ; on the spot 
where she had knelt there gushed out of the 
turf a little silver spring, which rippled and mur- 
mured away till it had almost entirely encircled 
the knight's grave ; then it ran further and 
emptied itself into a lake which lay by the side 
of the burial-place. Even to this day the inhab- 
itants of the village show the spring, and cherish 
the belief that it is the poor rejected Undine, 
who in this manner still embraces her husband 
in her loving arms.